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Microsoft’s transformation

14 February 2014 / 20:02:21  GRReporter
5450 reads

Ivan Petkov

Which company has changed the chairman of its board of directors for the first time in its 39-year history and its CEO for only the third time? You are right it is Microsoft, which is a symbol of the personal computer and which has faced numerous antitrust cases filed against it. This is the company that holds over 90% of the market of desktop computers, but it is also the company that has recently "slept through" the mobile revolution of smartphones and tablets. Whether it is loved or hated, the fact is that the software giant from Redmond is an important factor in today's technological world and it will have to face a lot of difficult and crucial decisions.

The changes in the highest echelons of Microsoft go along with the surprising and unprecedented information about a possible change in the policy of the software giant. The company is considering the possibility of the Windows operating system supporting Android applications. To this, we can add the fact that Nokia, which was acquired by Microsoft last year, is planning to launch its first Android phone in India.

Photo: @evleaks

Will we witness a shift in the policy of the company?

The magnificent four

We have all heard about Bill Gates. A co-founder of Microsoft, he was the only person to have held the post of "Chairman of the Board of Directors" until recently. Since 2000, Gates has given the helm of the company to his closest collaborator Steve Ballmer and since 2008, he has devoted himself to the foundation established by him and his wife. The billionaire philanthropist had rarely been involved in the company’s affairs, although his close associates claimed that he controlled the situation.

It is hard to believe the latter, as the company had experienced several significant crises, each of them showing its increasingly inadequate response to the rapidly changing market. I will only mention the emergence of netbooks for which Microsoft had extended the support of the ubiquitous Windows XP operating system, which was followed by another crisis due to the negative reception of Windows Vista by private and corporate customers. While the company was trying to regain its lost reputation and preparing to launch Windows 7 in order for it to replace Vista, smartphones had appeared on the horizon. When the mobile revolution was supplemented by tablets, Microsoft was in the position of a trader offering a product from an increasingly shrinking market. Of course, it would be ridiculous to give up a company with billions in annual earnings. Moreover, the company had successfully segmented its products, covering several key markets, except that of mobile devices.

Against this background, Bill Gates had repeatedly expressed his full support for, and confidence in, the skills of his successor Steve Ballmer. Over the past three years, the company has tried to catch up with the competition but Windows 8 RT for tablets and Windows Phone for smartphones have not become very popular, despite the great effort. There were some funny situations, namely Oprah Winfrey advertising Microsoft mobile products through her iPad and episodes of aggression on the part of Ballmer towards employees using competing products.

Finally, Bill Gates has yielded his leading role in the company, albeit for form’s sake, and received the title of Microsoft Technology Adviser. Many people consider this as retirement, although Gates himself says that he will again devote some time to working directly with various technical teams.

"My time will be about two-thirds Foundation and one-third Microsoft. I will focus on product work mostly," states Bill Gates.

In his words, the cloud and mobile devices can help people communicate and collaborate in new ways. "The operating system won’t just be on one device and the information won’t just be files - it will be your history, enabling you to review memories of things like kids growing up," said Gates.

Even the popular Office suite of business applications has plenty of room for innovation, adds the technology adviser to Microsoft.

Here is what Bill Gates said after leaving the post of chairman of the board of directors:

Steve Ballmer, who had headed the company since 2000, announced last August that he was retiring. There was persistent talk about changes in Microsoft, and journalists and analysts shared information from internal sources that the shareholders were exerting strong pressure for changes at the highest levels of the company management. A major restructuring was undertaken and a few believed that there would be a drastic change in the management. Stephen Sinovski who was indicated as a successor to Ballmer had just left the company. Despite rumours of a great lack of trust in Ballmer on the part of Microsoft employees, it seemed that the confidence declared by Bill Gates would strengthen his position this time.

As it turned out later, this was not enough. Ultimately, Ballmer had to retreat and the change that had long been awaited had happened. In his official statement, Ballmer informed us that his successor would be elected in the next few months or within one year. Moreover, a special committee had been formed to look for a man of vision and innovative spirit, wanting to change the lagging position of the company. This role did not appeal to the software giant, as demonstrated, and it was not good at it as it had been too accustomed to its monopoly position.

Here is what Steve Ballmer said upon parting:

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