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Steve Ballmer Reorganizing Microsoft 387

Posted by timothy
from the seat-of-power-chairs-of-strength dept.
Nerval's Lobster writes "Microsoft's big reorganization has begun. Rumors had persisted for weeks that Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer was planning a massive, once-in-a-lifetime reorganization of the company he's been running for quite some time. Now the plan is out in the open, and things are going to change in huge ways. Microsoft will coalesce around 'a single strategy as one company,' CEO Steve Ballmer wrote in a really lengthy memo posted on Microsoft's Website, 'not a collection of division strategies.' The company's product portfolio — from Windows and Xbox to enterprise applications — will be regarded and operated upon in a holistic manner. Ballmer wants this 'one company' approach to extend how Microsoft handles its advertising, marketing and consumer-service operations. Ballmer also wants to knock down the walls that have slowly grown between Microsoft's various divisions, at least as far as engineering's concerned. The new 'engineering culture' will apparently facilitate collaboration 'across the company,' with an emphasis on cross-group contributions (and maintaining secrecy, of course, for the giant projects). Read on for much more on how Microsoft is reorganizing all its internal groups, as well as a rundown of who's in and who's out on the executive level."
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Steve Ballmer Reorganizing Microsoft

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  • Reorg Strategy (Score:5, Interesting)

    by zlives (2009072) on Thursday July 11, 2013 @11:08AM (#44250827)

    based on Marketing department... WINNNNing

  • Re:chair jokes (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday July 11, 2013 @11:16AM (#44250913)
    Maybe MS is doing the same thing as BlackBerry?
    BlackBerry's "engineering culture shift" has folks moving into "open concept collaboration spaces."
    These consist of 6x6 desks arranged in a quad facing inwards, so you're always staring at 3 other people. The workspace dividers are 6" high, no shelves, no personal space. Chairs are back-to-back, so if you and Joe lean back at the same time you'll concuss each other.
    Employees are being instructed to not voice their opinions on the move or they'll face discipline. I have heard everyone is very excited and energized by the new collaborative environment that's being shoved down their throats.
  • by spd_rcr (537511) on Thursday July 11, 2013 @11:17AM (#44250933) Homepage

    Hard to get rid of a guy who's fired or run-off all his potential replacements.

    The big omission I noticed in the article was any mention of changes to the annual review process. Their current curved review approach does no encourage cooperation between employees, much less between divisions. The one-team approach needs to be supported from the bottom up, not just dictated from the top down.

  • by aaarrrgggh (9205) on Thursday July 11, 2013 @11:22AM (#44251005)

    Didn't they reorganize as a engineering centric company around 2000 as well?

    If only they had a real leader, they might be able to pull off this unified company concept...

  • by avandesande (143899) on Thursday July 11, 2013 @11:50AM (#44251379) Journal

    Having the SSRS/SQL Server team have their package work in VS 2010 would have been a start....

  • by kimvette (919543) on Thursday July 11, 2013 @12:36PM (#44251995) Homepage Journal

    > and like 'em or hate 'em they are pretty much the only game in town unless you want a dumb terminal (Google) or an overpriced iToy that you can't upgrade or fix shit on.

    If it comes to that, you'd see Crossover get some serious corporate sponsorship so that legacy Windows apps run smoothly on Linux and OS X, and you'd see Linux and OS X gain wide market acceptance on the desktop as well as in the server room.

    Windows doesn't have to be the only game in town. In the server room they are far from it.

  • by ADRA (37398) on Thursday July 11, 2013 @12:36PM (#44251997)

    To be fair, I believe I said almost the same thing around 10 years ago. Microsoft will continue to shuttle on with its existing markets and they'll slide into the legacy market much like Mainframes and UNIX are today. The question of what replaces Windows in the long term is still up for debate and frankly they've only stayed as relevant as they are now because nobody's got the apex replacement:

    1. Mac's -- Apple doesn't seem go give a fck about them and only keeps them around so that they get free movie/tv marketing and so that programmers can actually write software for the platforms that they care about. Even if they did decide to push it hard, they're still the insular control freaks that make people run from their platforms at least as often as it attracts.
    2. Linux -- Linux what? The diaspora of hundreds of projects all running in different directions changing paradigms because they feel like it? Yeah, we're boned. I love Linux and use it for real work daily, but this is NOT the replacement until people seriously start collaborating on writing a consistent platform
    3. Android/FirefoxOS/ChromeOS/etc.. -- Sadly if there was any front facing OS strategy that would take out MS for desktops / laptops, it'll probably be one of these, but a lot has to change for these to become the competitive general purpose computing solution.

  • by garett_spencley (193892) on Thursday July 11, 2013 @01:20PM (#44252629) Journal

    Ballmer might be a horrible CEO (I don't really care enough to know), but you would think a CEO should have some idea of what parts of the company are "important", and "important" should not be a matter of opinion, but of objective profit measurement.

    Books have been written about why companies that focus do better than companies that try to get their hands into everything. PepsiCo owns everything from Frito-Lay to KFC to East Side Marios restaurants, but both Coca Cola and McDonald's each have PepsiCo beat in terms of net asset value despite each corporation focusing tightly on only beverages or a single fast food chain.

    It's not against anyone's best interests for Microsoft to cut the fat and sell off divisions and brands that aren't integral to it's core focus. What the core focus is, if it has one, I don't know. My guess is it should probably be Windows and related products like Office. XBox should at the very least drop the Microsoft brand and be treated as a separate company, if not actually spun into a completely separate company. There's really no reason not to. The shareholders can spin off divisions or brands held by Microsoft corp into completely new companies and still retain ownership in those new companies. They would just elect a new Presidents for those new corps, hire a new executive team (preferably by promoting experts within those divisions who know what they're doing), and let them be run as tightly focused companies that don't need to compete for capital and resources with all of the other divisions under the currently bloated umbrella corp that is Microsoft. The shareholders continue to profit from their holdings as long as the new company is profitable, and the employees working in those divisions benefit from working for a company that is dedicated solely to achieving the success of the products they actually work on, rather than being treated "unimportant" compared to the other divisions (i.e: no more infighting). As long as there is any hope for those products they stand to do much better as stand-alone companies.

    Another reason defocused companies are at a disadvantage is that often they need to sell to their competitors. Pepsi actually outsells Coca Cola in super markets, but in restaurants Coca Coca destroys them, and as a result Coca Cola wins in terms of net profits. The reason is because McDonald's and others don't want to buy from PepsiCo when Pepsi owns Taco Bell, KFC and other competitors.

  • by jcr (53032) <[jcr] [at] [mac.com]> on Thursday July 11, 2013 @01:28PM (#44252721) Journal

    I think Ballmer's trying to do the right thing by breaking down the internal barriers, but there are a hell of a lot of managers there who built their little empires, and won't give them up just because the CEO tells them to. What I'm waiting to see is whether anyone obeys him.

    -jcr

  • Re:Good (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Just Some Guy (3352) <kirk+slashdot@strauser.com> on Thursday July 11, 2013 @01:47PM (#44252991) Homepage Journal

    I agree with you, in principle. I mean, they've clearly been doing this wrong and props to them for recognizing that and trying to fix it. But did you catch the part about the person liable for Windows Phone being set to lead the new Operating System Engineering Group?

    If you had any hopes of Metro going away, any at all, abandon them now.

  • by Cid Highwind (9258) on Thursday July 11, 2013 @03:12PM (#44253993) Homepage

    Yes, but they also instituted stack ranking for performance reviews about the same time, so by now the upper echelons are hopelessly full of people whose core competencies are "pushing others under the bus" and "making it look like an accident", instead of engineering and leadership.

    I'm hoping someday a former executive will write a tell-all book about the backstabbing in Redmond... and title it "A Game of Chairs".

  • by Anonymous Brave Guy (457657) on Thursday July 11, 2013 @03:12PM (#44254003)

    or else by 2020 when Win 7 reaches EOL it'll see MSFT reach EOL with it

    I doubt even Microsoft would have made it to 2020 on its previous course, mostly because it didn't really seem to have one, so it's not surprising that things are changing.

    Whether things are changing in a good direction is a different question. Microsoft have, with some justification, dominated business desktops for decades, and they have a serious presence in the server room/back office as well. They appear to be almost throwing that away and betting the farm on mobile and clouds with this new strategy.

    If I were a betting man myself, I'd wager that the current cloud/software-as-a-service trend is going to overstay its welcome long before 2020. Objectively, there just isn't enough in it for the customers and it's being sustained more by groupthink than actual merit. When CIOs stop being cool just because they're moving everything "into the cloud", they'll start evangelising the security and reliability and performance and financial benefits of having everything in-house, under their direct control.

    If I were in Microsoft's position, I'd be tempted to build a client/server model based on "private clouds" for business, probably with a three-way split between back-end tools, portable devices, and less portable but more flexible/multi-purpose devices. I'd want a unified set of ideas in the software and I'd want silky smooth data sharing and real-time collaboration and easy software management around the network, but I'd expect a different presentation style for the software in each of the three cases. They've got the war chest and continuing revenues to wait out the current cloud boom. They could be better placed than anyone else in the industry to lock up the business market for another generation, if they could just offer the right balance between cloud/mobile flexibility and depth/power of traditional business computing, without the cheap-and-nasty feel of most cloud and mobile experiences today.

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