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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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  • Fixed that for you (Score:5, Insightful)

    by tom229 (1640685) on Thursday July 11, 2013 @10:56AM (#44250639)

    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 ruining for quite some time.

    • by chuckinator (2409512) on Thursday July 11, 2013 @11:18AM (#44250947)
      Stories like this bring the phrase "rearranging deck chairs on the Titanic" to mind.
      • by Samantha Wright (1324923) on Thursday July 11, 2013 @11:34AM (#44251155) Homepage Journal
        I wouldn't be so sure—Microsoft's terrible internal organization and infighting have been discussed at length in the past [slashdot.org], and it's quite reasonable to say that this is the exact problem that makes their products what we despise. One tiny example: PowerShell was supposed to be an update for the Command Prompt, but because the group that wrote PowerShell wasn't the group in charge of the core system, it had to be shipped as a separate product. The fiefdom regime essentially makes it difficult or impossible to contribute to projects that aren't your own, creating huge barriers to contributing bugs; everything is its own little cathedral. Here's [zorinaq.com] a more detailed rant on the technical consequences from an anonymous MS employee.
        • DOJ, pay attention (Score:4, Insightful)

          by Thud457 (234763) on Thursday July 11, 2013 @11:44AM (#44251283) Homepage Journal

          Windows isn't done until Lotus won't run.

          Expect to see more undocumented syscalls for Office Apps, IE, SQL Server, SMB, etc, etc.

        • by jythie (914043)
          The problem with 'focused' reorgs like this is they tend to not actually stop the infighting, they simply declare a winner. So it is possible that Microsoft will now have even bigger problems with 'so how does your division help the one true division that matters?' meme
        • by Dcnjoe60 (682885) on Thursday July 11, 2013 @12:42PM (#44252067)

          I wouldn't be so sure—Microsoft's terrible internal organization and infighting have been discussed at length in the past [slashdot.org], and it's quite reasonable to say that this is the exact problem that makes their products what we despise.

          Except that Ballmer has been at the helm for most of that time and ultimately responsible for the organization and infighting as it is part of the corporate culture at Microsoft. That is why most boards bring in a whole new management team when such a top down re-organization is required. Most boards realize that you only get one chance to get it right. That's why you don't let the fox who has been raiding the hen house be the one who reorganizes the hen house. Leaving Balmmer and the rest of the management team in place means that board believes that management isn't the problem, but the workers are. That doesn't bode well for the future of Microsoft as the workers aren't the ones who have created the corporate culture nor are they the ones who have made the company a shadow of what it once was or could have been.

        • by jcr (53032) <jcr@NoSPAM.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

        • by gestalt_n_pepper (991155) on Thursday July 11, 2013 @02:55PM (#44253805)

          A more rational organization would have strangled the syntactic abomination that is powershell at birth.

          Full disclosure: I use and despise Powershell every day. I'm getting better and better at both using and despising it.

      • by 91degrees (207121) on Thursday July 11, 2013 @11:36AM (#44251163) Journal
        There's a joke here about throwing deckchairs at the Titanic, somewhere. I just can't quite make it work.
      • by mwvdlee (775178) on Thursday July 11, 2013 @11:43AM (#44251275) Homepage

        Except that when it comes to rearranging chairs, nobody is more efficient than Ballmer.

      • by Almahtar (991773) on Thursday July 11, 2013 @11:46AM (#44251327) Journal
        We all know Ballmer is quite the whiz with chairs.
      • by hairyfeet (841228) <{bassbeast1968} {at} {gmail.com}> on Thursday July 11, 2013 @11:59AM (#44251503) Journal

        Well if the rumors that have been "surfacing" (pun intended) lately are true I owe a big "Sorry about that dude" to Sinofsky as rumor has it he wanted Windows 8 to really be 7.1 and he wanted Metro to be the new mobile and he got cockblocked by Ballmer who probably wears an "I heart Apple" shirt to work.

        At the end of the day its business 101, give folks what they want to buy or they'll take their business elsewhere. Instead what we have is TBB (Typical Ballmer behavior) where he goes "Ohh you don't like our walled gardens and cellphone UIs? well fuck you will make it twice as nasty!". See win 8.1 having a "start button" that takes you back to the fucking Metro UI the user wants to get the hell away from in the first place for an example. I just hope when win 8.1 shits itself and bombs that the board will fire his fat ass and the other rumor,that ballmer can NEVER be fired thanks to gates backing his Little buddy" aren't true, or else by 2020 when Win 7 reaches EOL it'll see MSFT reach EOL with it 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.

        • 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 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.

    • 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 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 ackthpt (218170) on Thursday July 11, 2013 @11:31AM (#44251113) Homepage Journal

      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 ruining for quite some time.

      To be fair, the company once had a rather singular approach the the market, but through expansion and growth it ended up looking like bloated octopus.

      Expect some housecleaning to be a part of this re-org as redundancy is cut out, empires reigned in.

      • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday July 11, 2013 @11:50AM (#44251393)

        empires reigned in

        GAAAH

        I see this mistake everywhere now. The word is spelled reined when used in this context. "Reigned" was something a king did. "Reined" refers to something that was curtailed or brought under control - i.e., "I reined in my horse," meaning, I slowed down my horse by pulling on the reins, which is where the expression came from.

        Empires are not kings. Empires do not (or did not) rule something. Therefore, it has to be "reined."

    • it will all suck. total reorg with the same CEO who fostered the cluster? -- yah, sure, ya betcha then. Sven. so put some gas on the wood chipper and let's get it ready.

    • I was going to correct it as "running into the ground" actually.
  • Executive summary. (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday July 11, 2013 @10:56AM (#44250647)

    He's an idiot.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday July 11, 2013 @11:00AM (#44250725)

    More tablet interfaces on the PC, more attempts to lock on the tablet as TV, more stupidity around attempting to turn a Gaming Console into a Media Center that replaces the tablet, the PC and everything else.

    Or does he surprise us? Nope. He won't. We have seen what the plan with Windows 8 and instead of understanding that move was stupid they are going to attempt to force it in with all the power they can muster.

    • by plover (150551) on Thursday July 11, 2013 @03:36PM (#44254265) Homepage Journal

      The memo specifically called out Office365 and Azure, which is the foundation of their plans to extract an annual tithe from all the copies of Office in the world.

      They've been seeing this day come for over a decade, and it's been their number one concern. How do they keep selling something that isn't improving as much as its price tag might suggest? Office 2010 had only one real competitor, Office 2007, which in turn had only Office 2003 to beat. Since Microsoft has turned the corner on code quality, their latest products are so well written that the users have stopped clamoring for a not-broken version. They aren't putting out an Office 2013 because even their thickest users no longer see any value in upgrading.

      The thing Microsoft believes users really want these days is multiple-device integration and someone else to manage their systems. Users want their documents at home, at school, on the road, at the office, and on their phone (specifically on their iPhones and Androids, screw you Windows phone.) And they don't want to back up their stuff any more, they'll pay someone else to back up their stuff. This move lets them give away Office for free, because they get to collect the rent on your files forever.

      Oh, and did we tell you what happens if you stop paying? Nahh...

  • by QuietLagoon (813062) on Thursday July 11, 2013 @11:00AM (#44250729)
    Microsoft's Board of Directors need to fix the root cause of Microsoft's problems.

    .
    Unless and until Mr. Ballmer is shown the door, he will just continue re-arranging the deck chairs on the Titanic, and Microsoft will continue its slow voyage to the bottom...

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday July 11, 2013 @11:01AM (#44250743)

    Unless you are Apple.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday July 11, 2013 @11:02AM (#44250753)

    Fantastic, because what I really need from Microsoft is more synergy between my office applications and the Xbox.

  • by bunhed (208100) on Thursday July 11, 2013 @11:03AM (#44250775)

    I distinctly hear the sound of swirling water

  • by h4rr4r (612664) on Thursday July 11, 2013 @11:06AM (#44250809)

    Ballmer wants this 'one company' approach to extend how Microsoft handles its advertising, marketing and consumer-service operations.

    Ballmer showing what parts of the company he thinks are important is what this looks like to me.

    I rag on MS a ton, sometimes unfairly, but even they don't deserve to be stuck with Ballmer.

    • 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 SuperKendall (25149) on Thursday July 11, 2013 @02:51PM (#44253739)

        "important" should not be a matter of opinion, but of objective profit measurement.

        But what if you have something that is making good money now, but another division that could be making an amazing amount of money if managed differently?

        If you just base things on objective profit measurements, you'll never undertake the risky projects that can also have order of magnitudes better reward.

  • Reorg Strategy (Score:5, Interesting)

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

    based on Marketing department... WINNNNing

  • by Herkum01 (592704) on Thursday July 11, 2013 @11:13AM (#44250875)

    If this Dilbert cartoon [dilbert.com] does not hit the nail on the head, I don't know what does.

  • by zlives (2009072) on Thursday July 11, 2013 @11:15AM (#44250903)

    what SQL server needs is more tiles

  • by lesincompetent (2836253) on Thursday July 11, 2013 @11:15AM (#44250905)
    The following image came to my mind: a huge zeppelin, quickly losing height, desperately but uselessly releasing ballast: you know - and they know - it is doomed to crash and you keep staring at it waiting for it to finally meet its doom. People inside are panicking, restlessly shuffling around, trying their best to save their asses in the upcoming crash.
  • Good (Score:5, Insightful)

    by hsmith (818216) on Thursday July 11, 2013 @11:17AM (#44250935)
    Most of the posts are hate, but good for Microsoft. It is a step in the right direction. Anyone who works/worked there will tell you the organization is very segregated. Business units fight one another and things aren't done in a cohesive manner.

    But, Apple is very segregated as well and they seem to do alright. Perhaps it is just the culture at Microsoft that is the issue.

    Perhaps they will finally end their silly employee review process as well - as people I know at MS absolutely hate it.
    • Most of the posts are hate

      Microsoft wanted a monopoly of the desktop OS, and they got it.

      Well, with that monopoly, they also get a monopoly of hate. They just need to accept that. And I don't think that they really mind, as long as all those PCs are shipping with Windows already installed.

      Now . . . if folks switched from Microsoft PCs to Android devices . . . that might hurt their feelings a bit . . .

    • by 1s44c (552956)

      I've seen the same kind of problems in other huge companies. You end up with 3 or 4 departments doing the same work as yours but it's impossible to find or contact them to start some cooperation with each other. If you ask anyone high up enough to have any kind of overview of what department does what it turns out they don't know anything more than the high level overview you can get from the intranet.

      Ballmer is doing good by trying to fix Microsoft in this way but it won't work because he is a chair throwi

    • 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 Jeff Keenan (2965465) on Thursday July 11, 2013 @11:18AM (#44250941)
    If they want the "engineering culture" to "facilitate collaboration across the company", they can start by getting rid of the Stack Rank review process. Why would I want to collaborate with someone who I'm competing for a top spot on the review chart with?
    • by Princeofcups (150855) <john@princeofcups.com> on Thursday July 11, 2013 @01:41PM (#44252923) Homepage

      If they want the "engineering culture" to "facilitate collaboration across the company", they can start by getting rid of the Stack Rank review process. Why would I want to collaborate with someone who I'm competing for a top spot on the review chart with?

      Never. Ballmer and similar sociopaths have no concept of cooperation. They get to where they are by back stabbing and brown nosing, and expect everyone else to do the same. The strong survive, and the rest are so much offal to be thrown away.

  • by SoupGuru (723634) on Thursday July 11, 2013 @11:19AM (#44250959)

    I know it's popular to predict doom and gloom for Microsoft but I really don't understand what Balmer is thinking.

    If they are transitioning to a devices and services company that kind of means they are transitioning away from the things that have made them successful.

    I'm actually kind of giddy at the thought of some real competition in the corporate arena, seeing as how Microsoft continues to drop the ball.

  • by Picass0 (147474) on Thursday July 11, 2013 @11:20AM (#44250969) Homepage Journal

    Knocking down the silos in an organization is generally a good thing. That said I doubt Ballmer knows what to do next. The smartest thing he could do is choose a successor.

    Ballmer doesn't have vision. He doesn't understand the mobile market. Windows 8 was a disaster and MS continues to lose ground to Apple. The introduction of XBoxOne couldn't have been worse - great hardware crippled by licensing BS. Surface is overpriced and underselling next to Ipad and Android tablets.

    I'm only suprised he hasn't been forced out.

    • by Bieeanda (961632)
      He hasn't been forced out because they know he's learned to wield two chairs, Florentine style.
  • The names (Score:5, Informative)

    by jones_supa (887896) on Thursday July 11, 2013 @11:21AM (#44250981)

    Operating Systems Engineering Group. Terry Myerson will lead this group, and it will span all our OS work for console, to mobile device, to PC, to back-end systems. The core cloud services for the operating system will be in this group.

    Devices and Studios Engineering Group. Julie Larson-Green will lead this group and will have all hardware development and supply chain from the smallest to the largest devices we build. Julie will also take responsibility for our studios experiences including all games, music, video and other entertainment.

    Applications and Services Engineering Group. Qi Lu will lead broad applications and services core technologies in productivity, communication, search and other information categories.

    Cloud and Enterprise Engineering Group. Satya Nadella will lead development of our back-end technologies like datacenter, database and our specific technologies for enterprise IT scenarios and development tools. He will lead datacenter development, construction and operation.

    Dynamics. Kirill Tatarinov will continue to run Dynamics as is, but his product leaders will dotted line report to Qi Lu, his marketing leader will dotted line report to Tami Reller and his sales leader will dotted line report to the COO group.

    Advanced Strategy and Research Group. Eric Rudder will lead Research, Trustworthy Computing, teams focused on the intersection of technology and policy, and will drive our cross-company looks at key new technology trends.

    Marketing Group. Tami Reller will lead all marketing with the field relationship as is today. Mark Penn will take a broad view of marketing strategy and will lead with Tami the newly centralized advertising and media functions.

    COO. Kevin Turner will continue leading our worldwide sales, field marketing, services, support, and stores as well as IT, licensing and commercial operations.

    Business Development and Evangelism Group. Tony Bates will focus on key partnerships especially our innovation partners (OEMs, silicon vendors, key developers, Yahoo, Nokia, etc.) and our broad work on evangelism and developer outreach. DPE, Corporate Strategy and the business development efforts formerly in the BGs will become part of this new group. OEM will remain in SMSG with Kevin Turner with a dotted line to Tony who will work closely with Nick Parker on key OEM relationships.

    Finance Group. Amy Hood will centralize all product group finance organizations. SMSG finance, which is geographically diffuse, will report to Kevin Turner with a dotted line to Amy.

    Legal and Corporate Affairs Group. Brad Smith will continue as General Counsel with responsibility for the company's legal and corporate affairs and will map his team to the new organization.

    HR Group. Lisa Brummel will lead Human Resources and map her team to the new organization.

  • by KernelMuncher (989766) on Thursday July 11, 2013 @11:21AM (#44250993)
    Any reputable consulting company would start with the suggestion that Ballmer fire himself.

    Microsoft has been technically stagnant for most of the thirteen years since Ballmer took over (which is reflected in the company's flat stock price since 2002). The string of product failures under Ballmer is cringe worthy: Vista, Kin, Zune, Windows 8, Windows phone, Surface, never-ending security problems, etc. Almost every major computing trend during that time (portable music, phones, tablets, social media, etc) under Ballmer has been mishandled. About the only thing the company has done right is the Xbox and I don't think that makes them any money. It's only the legacy of the corporate purchases of the Windows OS and Office that keep the Microsoft going. And that trend was started long before Ballmer ever took office.
    • by RichMan (8097) on Thursday July 11, 2013 @11:32AM (#44251135)

      If they were not MS with a huge pile of cash Xbox would have been a failure. The initial hardware failure rate on shipped product was staggering. A lesser company would have been destroyed by that.

      Xbox should have been a hard lesson that MS management did not know anything about shipping physical units instead of software. Instead they learned "hardware reliabilty is important". They did not learn the marketing and usability stuff that Apple has hands down.

      Microsoft is so big it can bull through mistakes which lead to the Windows 8 "issue". Which is about 3 or more problems all in one.

    • I wouldn't say that the Xbox was "done right". It still had massive technical problems, forcing recalls. Since announcing the Xbox One, they've reversed many of the decisions that they had made, since those decisions had angered their target audience. Even with those things fixed, I still won't be buying one, even though I'm just the kind of person who buys expensive consoles.

    • by JustNiz (692889)

      >> About the only thing the company has done right is the Xbox

      Um nope. The fiasco with the DRM issue and the new Xbox launch was VERY cringeworthy.

    • by jbeach (852844)

      It's only the legacy of the corporate purchases of the Windows OS and Office that keep the Microsoft going.

      Everything else, but especially this. And the Windows OS has always been given away with little or no visible cost to the consumer, as a delivery system for MS Office. Which means that the MS Office division has ALL the clout, calls ALL the shots, and when something else interesting starts happening elsewhere in the company the MS Office division starts raiding to get control influence over that pr

    • About the only thing the company has done right is the Xbox and I don't think that makes them any money.

      I don't know if 30% hardware failure rate is "done right". If Xbox was a separate company it would have folded by now. The only thing that kept Xbox in it was MS deep pockets and that Sony bumbled badly too.

    • 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 milbournosphere (1273186) on Thursday July 11, 2013 @11:35AM (#44251157)

    Microsoft will consolidate all its major operating systems, including Windows, Windows Phone and the software that powers the Xbox, under Terry Myerson, who handled engineering for only Windows Phone before.

    I wonder if this will lead to any significant rethink of things on the desktop side. Windows 8 has a bit of an identity crisis going on; perhaps Win9 or whatever they decide to call it will solve that problem now that all of the OS design groups are under one tidy grouping.

  • How will he do it? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by 140Mandak262Jamuna (970587) on Thursday July 11, 2013 @11:37AM (#44251177) Journal
    Word Star had more users than the population of Bangladesh, Word Perfect was loved by the secretaries and Lotus 1-2-3 was worshiped by the accountants. Still Microsoft won them all, by hook or crook. Even if it is mostly by crook, it won. It needed employees with intense competitive focus to achieve that. All the people in the early days who had the fire in the belly to make their company succeed have all either burnt out, cashed out, shut out.

    People who are left behind all came of age when Microsoft had almost mythical powers. It could squelch competition by FUD, All it took was an announcement of vaporware and the funding for start-ups who could compete would just evaporate. These guys simply are not capable of competing on a level playing field. And the playing field is tilted against Microsoft now. The earlier era minions of Gates have earned the enmity of vast sections of the computer professionals. And so many of their partners fear them and do not trust them.

    Unless it is something radical like splitting the company into an OS division, a consumer products division, corporate server products division and all competing at full throttle it is not going to work.

  • by goruka (1721094) on Thursday July 11, 2013 @11:38AM (#44251201)
    Nowadays, most of the software industry works together in open technologies that are widely used, like Linux, BSD, Apache, Webkit, Firefox, LLVM, PHP, OpenGL, Freetype, Android, etc. This is one of the reasons about why we've seen so many amazing products come out in such a short time the past decade.

    Microsoft still believes they can do everything by themselves and they are starting to really fall behind. They were never a very efficient company, as their products reached maturity by iterating several years over several versions. Now, instead of accepting that the world has decided to embrace open technologies as foundation to most products, they are desperate to find ways to stay competitive with their current business model, and aggressively go after those who use open technologies to get patent money.

    Why is it so difficult for Ballmer and Gates to admit that they can't compete anymore, no matter how many times they restructure their company? It's one company vs the world at this point.
  • by Somebody Is Using My (985418) on Thursday July 11, 2013 @11:47AM (#44251337) Homepage

    Taking a different approach from most of these comments, I think a reorganization is exactly what Microsoft needs. It has long been known that the individual departments of Microsoft rarely communicate well between themselves and often seem actively hostile towards one another. I remember reading an article (when Office 97 came out, so this shows how far back this problem goes) about how the OS team was upset that Office utilized a goodly number of non-standard tricks rather than using the standard APIs. Thus, moving forward the OS team had to add in shims into their OS to ensure that its Office suite would continue to function in later versions of Windows. Or years later, how PlaysForSure didn't, on the Zune. Each division had its own methods and goals and rarely would they consider the needs of the other divisions. So a re-organization that helps solve some of these issues is probably long overdue.
    (incidentally, a telling graphic of this problem is the following cartoon [bonkersworld.net])

    On the gripping hand, I have to wonder if Balmer is really the best person to enact these changes; he hasn't inspired confidence with his recent (or any?) decisions. Similarly, I suspect that this "one company approach" is less to solve internal problems and more to officially shift the whole company from product-based development (e.g., write a program and sell it to the customers) to a service-based company (e.g., continual subscription-based access to its portfolio of services). , which is a direction Microsoft has been edging towards for over a decade.

  • by gstrickler (920733) on Thursday July 11, 2013 @11:55AM (#44251437)

    My Buzzword Bingo card was completed in the first 3 paragraphs of Ballmer's memo. By the end, I only had a few unmarked spaces on each card.

  • by sl4shd0rk (755837) on Thursday July 11, 2013 @11:57AM (#44251459)

    FTFA: "launching Windows 8 and Surface, moving to continuous product cycles, bringing a consistent user interface to PCs, tablets, phones and Xbox "

    I've never heard so much Fail mentioned in one sentence before. If those are supposed to be the largest representative of Microsoft's successes in the past decade, they are really, really, really screwed.

  • by CadentOrange (2429626) on Thursday July 11, 2013 @12:22PM (#44251785)

    I would have thought that Microsoft's biggest problem at the moment is that all the different divisions are not separate enough. The biggest thing holding Microsoft back is their seemingly inexplicable need to make everything run on Windows only (Office is the notable exception).

    This blind adherence to making everything run on Windows may have been a strategic move in the 90's but it's really doing them no favours today. Take SQL server for example. It's a very good database product, but it only runs on Windows. While Windows has a large share of the server market, Linux (and other flavours of *nix) is just as large if not larger. If they were serious about pushing SQL server, they'd do what other database companies do and release their product on multiple platforms. Oracle/Postgres/DB2/etc all run on Window and common flavours of *nix. It makes no sense to hold SQL server back unless it's to give Windows a unique selling point.

    The same can be said of a lot of their other products. Visual Studio is IMHO the best IDE out there, yet it's Windows only. MS Office is the standard office suite, yet it's not available on the major mobile operating systems (Android and iOS). Not releasing MS Office for iOS/Android is as ridiculous as not releasing it for the Mac. They've clearly decided that the Mac market is targeting and it's worth noting that Microsoft's Mac Business unit is doing well financially.

    Making their other products run on non-Windows platforms may jeopardise the sales of Windows licenses, but it's almost certain to improve the sales of everything else. The question is whether the increase in sales will offset the loss of Windows licenses, and I'm in no position to answer that. My gut feeling is that it will be better for the company in the long run as they will no longer be tied to the fortunes of Windows. This separation may also benefit Windows in the long term as it won't be able to use the other MS products "exclusives" as a crutch and will have to stand on its own merits.

    This is the sort of shake-up of Microsoft that I think is necessary. Anything else is just a waste of time and akin to rearranging deck chairs on the Titanic, as others have alluded to.

  • by Enderandrew (866215) <enderandrewNO@SPAMgmail.com> on Thursday July 11, 2013 @12:35PM (#44251965) Homepage Journal

    I once noted at an Exchange demonstration (put on by a professional Microsoft Evangelist) that not all of the new features in Exchange were supported in the new version of Outlook, which seemed odd. He confessed that the two teams are not allowed to talk to each other during initial development because of NDAs. The two divisions of the company are kept in the dark from each other, even though the two products are designed to work together.

    I think many large companies suffer from their size.

  • SharePoint (Score:5, Insightful)

    by dosun88888 (265953) on Thursday July 11, 2013 @01:21PM (#44252637) Homepage

    Aside from Windows itself, I'd offer SharePoint as the most wide-reaching product that the company produces. To deploy and work with a SharePoint installation crosses all boundaries between servers to end-user software.

    This being the case, a brief examination of a few pieces of it can illustrate the walls between the various groups.

    Firstly, there are around 6 distinct People Picker controls in use through the product. That's the dialog where you pick a user from AD or whatever authentication provider you're using to either give them rights or attach them to something. All do exactly the same thing, some look exactly the same, and some look different. But there are 6 of them.

    Interface customization in SharePoint is a huge mess. You can create an application page and deploy it to the server. You can customize other page types with SharePoint Designer. You can use InfoPath to customize list forms. Now you can even take some random HTML you made in a text editor or dreamweaver and run a process to create a new layout from that as a template. I could keep going about the various customization vectors (if you can think of another manner, I've probably done that too). Even the pages making up the functionality that ships with the product don't follow any sort of reasonable pattern. Sometimes you're looking at an InfoPath form, and sometimes an HTML form, and sometimes you're kicked to an application page that looks distinct from other application pages doing the same thing for other services. Some functionality is in web parts, and some are in delegate controls.

    Go to the administration settings for PowerPivot, and you get something that looks different than the settings for Excel Services. Then look at PerformancePoint. All are serving very similar functions, and providing very similar settings, but it's like learning Mandarin and then needing to also pick up Cantonese to set up the next thing that is ostensibly part of the same product.

    They've taken some steps to unifying parts of the product in SharePoint 2013, but there is still a long way to go before it can be called cohesive. If they can break down some of these walls for Microsoft as a whole, then maybe it'll make SharePoint more solid as an offering.

    Then again, if it wasn't a mess and made sense I'd be an order of magnitude less valuable as a SharePoint guy.

  • Obligatory Quote (Score:4, Insightful)

    by apcullen (2504324) on Thursday July 11, 2013 @01:51PM (#44253053)

    We trained hard ... but it seemed that every time we were beginning to form up into teams we would be reorganized. I was to learn later in life that we tend to meet any new situation by reorganizing; and a wonderful method it can be for creating the illusion of progress while producing confusion, inefficiency, and demoralization.

    --Gauis Petronius Circa 50AD

  • by dtjohnson (102237) on Thursday July 11, 2013 @02:54PM (#44253779)

    ...because organization is not the problem. Microsoft has operated under the 'look out for number 1' principle for so long that it permeates their culture. Every employee, manager, executive, and group ruthlessly guards their own self-interests at the expense of everything else...corporate goals, customer needs, company reputation, and so on. The general company principles appear to be a) gouge customers, b) drive competitors out of business, and c) undermine partners. These are the principles that built Microsoft and they probably can never be changed. Operating in this way has smothered innovation to the extent that computers pretty much operate exactly as they did 20 years ago other than being faster and more powerful (thanks to hardware innovation out of Microsoft's purview). If it were not for Steve Jobs and Apple, we would still be using cellphones that made calls and played simple games, we would be listening to music on CDs that had to contact a central server run by Microsoft before they could be played, and laptops would be the size of a countertop pancake griddle and put out about the same amount of heat.

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