Thoughts on all of this:
1. John Thompson (former Symantec CEO) as Chairman? Oh no. Symantec produced more steaming piles of crap called "software" than any company really has a right to. This wouldn't bode well.
2. People can say what they want about consumer devices, but enterprise software is worth LOTS of money. Having a guy like Nadella that understands a lot of the enterprise angle running things is a good idea. Yeah, you can sell people a phone (with a final cost of some $500), and a bunch of $1 and $2 applications, and some fraction of a $50 monthly cell bill. OR, you can sell them an OS for each computer in the place at a cost of $30-$50, an indispensable office suite for $150 per seat, client licenses for file servers, active directory, databases, web servers, and the like, PLUS the costly licenses for the server software, PLUS annual maintenance. It's easy to see where the cash is, and it's not in consumer devices.
3. I can see why people might prefer Windows 7 to Windows 8, but most of the time people are speaking from ignorance, never having used Windows 8 (or having used it only with a mouse). It's a different beast entirely with a touch screen. As for usability, Apple is on a downward slide, IMHO. We're getting nothing but gratuitous changes in every release now, and Mavericks positively ruined an otherwise serviceable 5-year-old MacBook by destroying its performance. Windows Phone 8 is really nice, especially in the way it emphasizes the productivity uses of the phone over games and glitz. It's a lot tighter resource-wise than Android for sure.
4. Microsoft spends like four times as much on R&D as Apple does. Apple's a rather minor player in this regard.
I think Microsoft could be positioned for a real resurgence with the right leadership.