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Microsoft Businesses

Satya Nadella At Six Months: Grading Microsoft's New CEO 151

snydeq writes The future emerging for Microsoft under Nadella is a mixed bag of hope and turmoil, writes Woody Leonhard in his review of Nadella's first fix months at the helm of Microsoft. "When Nadella took over, Microsoft was mired in the aftermath of a lengthy and ultimately unpopular reign by longtime CEO — and Microsoft majority shareholder — Steve Ballmer. Given the constraint of that checkered past, some might argue that Nadella hasn't had enough time to make his imprint on every aspect of Microsoft. Yet there have been many changes already under Nadella's watch, and patterns are certainly emerging as to the kind of company Microsoft will be in the years ahead." Leadership, product lines, financials — Nadella's scorecard shows strong strategic leadership, particularly around the cloud, but Windows and devices are murky at best, with Microsoft employees "taking it in the shorts, and not only in Finland."
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Satya Nadella At Six Months: Grading Microsoft's New CEO

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  • Not that hard IMO (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Hamsterdan ( 815291 ) on Monday August 04, 2014 @01:59PM (#47601251)

    How hard can it be to be replace Ballmer? Vista, Zune, Media Center and Metro. Half of them really bad, the other two (Zune and MCE) were abandonned. MCE was a really good product (still using it on one of my machines), Zune could have been something too.

    They need to innovate, Tablets are replacing laptops, computers are fast enough to not need replacing (Mine is around 7y old) and competing office suites are good enough to replace Office in most cases. That means less Windows & Office licenses in the consumer market (beginning to change in the business market too)

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday August 04, 2014 @02:03PM (#47601273)

    You've got to be kidding, trolling or ignorant as hell. Just because you want MS to be irrelevant doesn't mean they actually are, like it or not.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday August 04, 2014 @02:04PM (#47601283)
    Given Nadella's short time so far as Microsoft CEO, some might argue that it would be stupid to try to review his progress so far. He hasn't had time enough to supervise a whole release cycle of Microsoft's most important products (not Windows nor XBox nor Office), but who says it would be a pathetic attempt at click-bait to write some nonsense about what he's done so far. Corporate culture takes a decade to change in an organization as large as Microsoft, but let's go ahead and scribble down whatever stupid thoughts pop into my head. There's no statistically significant evidence, but let's grab some random noise off the latest data and pretend like it makes a meaningful trend. We can't see the path forward, but I don't know why I shouldn't make a blend of wishful thinking, delusional futurecasting and gibberish to create a document that will drive ad revenue. The products of Microsoft are varied and numerous in amount. One thing they produce is Windows, or as the Indians call it, "Maize". In conclusion, Microsoft is a land of contrasts.
  • by JWW ( 79176 ) on Monday August 04, 2014 @02:06PM (#47601303)

    The problem I see with this is that even if Microsoft is starting to turn things around. "Employees are taking it in the shorts." That is what is really going to hurt. With the number being cut loose in the many thousands, and no clarification as who those thousands are, Microsoft now has pretty much everyone scared of losing their job.

    That doesn't translate well into a strong improving company. People are going to spend a good amout of their time trying to find the exit, not making the company better.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday August 04, 2014 @02:11PM (#47601335)

    why does this failure to read get modded insightful? the gp said "individual",
    unless you are the supreme court, i would expect that your definition of
    individual does not include "blackrock", "capital group" or "vanguard".

  • What is his job? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by 140Mandak262Jamuna ( 970587 ) on Monday August 04, 2014 @02:13PM (#47601367) Journal
    Before you grade his performance first decide what his job is. Whether he is going to be graded as a doctor trying to save a dying patient? Or a doctor doing terminal care, pain management etc to ease the passage? Or transplant surgeon who should harvest usable organs for transplant? or is he just an undertaker brought in to dress up the corpse for one last ride in the Cadillac?

    [The car analogy is left to the astute reader].

  • by Junta ( 36770 ) on Monday August 04, 2014 @02:28PM (#47601453)

    Too early to try to measure 'success'.

    shows strong strategic leadership, particularly around the cloud

    So far there isn't anything particularly different about his time there as far as degree of success in the 'cloud' market. In terms of Azure, it's a tricky proposition for a company that is ostensibly a high-margin company. Going toe to toe with Amazon, a company that has repeatedly shown it is not shy about operating on margins so thin they are at high risk of actually operating at loss in a given quarter (I would say the same thing about IBM's foray into the space).

    I suspect Windows is there to stay for the foreseeable future (it is about the only product they have with a pretty proven market acceptance that is also consistently profitable). Devices I think will go away, as it should. They let Google and Apple get ahead in the broad ecosystem strategy and the vertically integrated strategy respectively, leaving no room for MS really. MS has to figure out how to somehow undercut Android cost for partners or give up on owning the underlying platform. Either way making devices in house will not be winning them any favors, Apple has shown the most success and the most loyalty and yet their share still is going down in the face of the huge ecosystem of android vendors.

    xBox would make more money as something sold to a third party, who probably would do better with it than microsoft has.

  • by UnknownSoldier ( 67820 ) on Monday August 04, 2014 @02:41PM (#47601565)

    Because at the end of the day it is "business as usual" -- no one really gives a fuck about Microsoft's new CEO.

    Microsoft still doesn't a fucking clue about UI, it still shits on PC gamers with its crappy [google.com] GWFL (Games For Windows Live), the Xbone has the stupidest marketing name ever, XP is still holding on because business can't be bought off with the latest untested shiny, DX12 will be only available on Windows 9 as MS tries to force gamers to upgrade, etc.

  • by blue9steel ( 2758287 ) on Monday August 04, 2014 @03:02PM (#47601689)
    In my experience that means the appearance of work triples while actual productivity drops by half.
  • by Dutch Gun ( 899105 ) on Monday August 04, 2014 @03:21PM (#47601795)

    I learned quite a bit about Nadella from his e-mail which notified around eighteen thousand employees of impending layoffs and contained the word "synergies" no less than three times. Even his buzzwords are stale and unimaginative. This man either has no real vision, or he's very bad at communicating a clear vision. The article was correct in giving him a very bad grade in communication.

    The one-platform tech base strategy actually seems sound, though, and in truth, is how they should have been pushing Windows 8 - not as a touch-first OS like we got, but one that's touch-capable, able to integrate seamlessly with other small form factor touch-focused Microsoft devices by using a unified API (write once, deploy everywhere). There's a lot of legacy products out there that people will still depend on for decades to come, and businesses are made nervous when the creator of the OS on which they depend veers off in a new direction, seemingly abandoning the current platform on which you rely.

    It's a bit ironic to me that in trying to aim for the future, Microsoft is taking for granted and ultimately risking the core audience on which they've had a solid lock for the past twenty years. We'll see if Nadella manages to remember that while the desktop is no longer the face of new technology and is dwindling in importance, it's also a platform which is not likely to disappear as a significant market anytime in the near future. Rather than using that platform as a bully-pulpit to push it's other platforms, Microsoft needs to make it's other platforms compelling and attractive in their own right, and then demonstrate to businesses the value of a simple cross-platform deployment strategy, all while leaving it's "legacy" desktop platform in place in order to support more heavyweight computing tasks that individuals and business will still inevitably need.

  • by Anonymous Brave Guy ( 457657 ) on Monday August 04, 2014 @07:32PM (#47603503)

    It's a bit ironic to me that in trying to aim for the future, Microsoft is taking for granted and ultimately risking the core audience on which they've had a solid lock for the past twenty years.

    That was my big take away from the article as well.

    There are exactly two major Microsoft product lines I have any interest in, either professionally or personally: Windows and Office. One remains by far the most flexible platform for a general purpose computing device today. The other remains the standard for word processing and spreadsheets. All of these are useful to me almost every day.

    However, I really have no interest in "the cloud" for everyday computing needs. As I've suggested many times, I think Microsoft really missed a trick by chasing the cloud hype instead of pushing "private clouds" -- a model with very practical arguments in its favour and where their breadth of products would have given them a distinct advantage over any other major tech firm today. But storing all my personal stuff or my sensitive business documents off-site, accessed over inherently unreliable and slow connections, with unknown security and privacy implications? I assumed that was a joke until I realised big businesses weren't laughing.

    Similarly, I have no interest in paying recurring revenues for software that isn't either constantly adding significant value or dramatically better than anything I can get as a one-off purchase. For me personally, no software has ever met that benchmark so far. I do use properly licensed copies of things like MS Office and Adobe Creative Suite, and I would and did happily pay for major upgrades that added significant value from time to time. But a rental model for everyday software that is so stagnant they couldn't get people to upgrade any other way? No thanks. There were and are many things these software companies could do that would be worth a lot of money to me, but why would they bother when they can just phone it in and rely on the lock-in lemmings to keep their bank account topped up anyway?

    And I have even less interest in half-baked devices with ambiguous use cases. I'm typing this on a real keyboard, with a real mouse next to me, and a set of monitors that would make your puny 300+dpi tabletconvertiblenettopsurface with its physically small screen cry. Every now and then I have to suffer using a laptop in a meeting, and even the good ones are so pathetic compared to real workstations in every possible respect except portability that I cry. Nadella is welcome to promote a word processor running on a device with no keyboard. I'll take my 100ish error-free wpm typing speed and punctuation I can input with fewer than three not-real-key presses, thanks.

    I think all of the above are basically hype-driven rather than benefit-driven. The cloud has some advantages, but they are oversold. Recurring revenues will be great until the benefits almost inevitably start to tail off compared to what people got before, the bean counters start protesting, and some young upstart company becomes the next Microsoft by adopting the radical policy of making useful software and selling it without a rental EULA full of catches. And these multi-purpose tablet/laptop hybrids are just Jacks of all trades so far: they lack the convenience of a phone or small tablet, and they cost significantly more than a proper laptop of otherwise similar spec with little practical advantage unless you really need touch-based input (which almost nothing running on such hardware today actually does).

    So a strategy based on this will probably be very successful in the short term, when purchasing decisions made by suits at Fortune 500 companies are still driven by the hype, but if^Wwhen the correction happens -- and in some cases there are already signs that the hype is fading, and with hybrid devices it's not clear they will ever really take off in the first place -- Microsoft is going to be a mighty big ship to steer on a radically different course, with its two biggest engines poorly maintained and running well below capacity.

Real wealth can only increase. -- R. Buckminster Fuller