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A letter to Microsoft's board

Now that Ballmer is leaving, this gives you a shot to really unleash Microsoft. Let's be honest, Microsoft is like that super smart kid who is doing drugs and not living up to its potential. That has to change. Here's what needs to be done:

1. Split Microsoft up.

It has something like a dozen billion-dollar businesses. That's too much for one person to focus on. At least split it up into enterprise and consumer. Enterprise needs a far different leader than consumer does.

Why?

Because, as Larry Ellison said on Charlie Rose a week ago, enterprise sales cycles are hyper long. They won't switch to the newest hotness immediately, so you need someone who can crunch along the products and keep them relevant and interesting long term.

Consumer tech, though, is far more faddish. Heck, back when I worked at Microsoft did I see the iPhone coming? No way. Apple had never built a phone. But when it did it pushed the market way ahead and did it with style. Something that Microsoft struggles with (except for the Xbox team, which is a hint -- you gotta get Microsoft into two pieces).

2. Get someone who loves the future.

A CEO shouldn't just need to be a builder (someone like who Shervin Pishevar just suggested -- Andy Sacks, Hadi Partovi, Aaron Levie, Marissa Mayer, etc) but also needs to stand up in front of the world and get everyone to believe.

Ballmer NEVER did that for me. ScottGu? Maybe. David Sacks? Yeah. Jack Dorsey? Yeah. But needs to be someone who understands contextual systems (mobile, local, social, sensors, wearables). At least for the consumer side of the fence. That's where the future is going (not just devices and services -- you guys have the tone ALL wrong there).

3. Integrate Microsoft R&D far deeper into the company.

If I ran Microsoft I'd really rethink Microsoft's R&D. It still is too slow for the cool stuff to get out of R&D and into products. Needs to be faster. It might piss off a lot of people who think that Microsoft R&D is just like college where you get rewarded by writing papers, etc. That attitude needs to go, but needs to go under someone who LOVES the future. Lots of people there love building things, not just doing academic research. Rebuild a new kind of R&D around those people, particularly ones who get contextual systems (mobile, local, social, sensors, big data, wearables).

3. The consumer side of Microsoft needs to rebuild. Xbox One is not looking healthy. It's too expensive in a world where a family is going to have to decide to spend its $500 gadget budget on either a new tablet, a new phone, or a new gaming console. In too many homes the gaming console will lose this fall to the other choices.

Unfortunately Microsoft's mobile program is in shambles with around 4% market share. I don't see what Microsoft can do about that at the moment. This CEO search will take months, and in those months Microsoft will continue falling behind and now employees are distracted by wondering who their new boss will be. 

You need to skate to where the puck will be in 2015 to 2020: services that can assist us, or be highly personalized, will be a big deal. Already are, really. I won't buy another device without Google Now on it. That shows you where you are weak: you don't know anything about me and can't build services to compete with Google Now (which is getting better and better everyday). 

Good luck, because down in Silicon Valley Google and Facebook are locked in a war over contextual systems (we used to call them social networks, but it's a lot bigger than that). That excites developers and marketers and the press. You need to figure out who will get you involved in that war. Right now you aren't and that's a shame for a company that has so many resources and so many great customers around the world (including my employer who is a partner with you on servicing Exchange, Sharepoint, and other Microsoft technologies).

One thing is that this gives me hope for the future. Steve Ballmer is a nice guy, one I enjoyed talking with, but he never really understood what innovation was and never really understood the future, or, really, loved it.

I hope your next CEO will be someone who loves the future. 
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88 comments
 
Ding, dong, Ballmer's gone! Concur, but make #2 above the number 1 priority. :) 
 
+Brett Williams I disagree. This company is too large for one person to manage. Even Steve Jobs couldn't have done it.
 
Hmmm... I didn't think that through did I? Fair enough! Great insights Robert. :)
 
+Robert Scoble you may some good points and I agree that Enterprise and Consumers are different markets. The main thing I've seen that hinders MS is the infighting that goes on between the divisions. Perhaps you are right that they should be split completely. 

Not sure the Scott Guthrie should lead the whole thing, personally I think he needs to stay right where he is as that is what he does best. He brought .Net a long way and they continue to innovate in this area. They don't need to take a chance on breaking it.
 
Ballmer was exactly what Gates needed to keep him in line . Ballmer was the business guy and a great administrator. He was never an engineer or an innovator. That's what Microsoft really needs is someone at the top thinking up the crazy stuff while someone stands beside them to keep focus once in a while.
 
+Bruce Hopkins yeah, Bill Gates needs to get over his belief that it shouldn't be split up. Scott Guthrie runs a competitor to Rackspace (Azure) so I don't really want him to succeed, but if I was looking for someone to run Microsoft's enterprise businesses I can't think of someone better than him. He's not consumer enough, though, to lead Microsoft back into consumer relevance.
 
+Christian Wainright the best "crazy thinkers" are people who are highly disciplined. Steve Jobs "magic?" It was in saying no to his crazy engineers who kept coming up with new ideas (he said "yes" at the right time after they had really come up with something better).
 
+Robert Scoble I think you hit the nail on this one. You should try to get this published somewhere online. 
 
Umm.. Is there something I haven't understood. I always thought that Palmer was more like an actor to give face to boring entity called Microsoft and he did really entertaining job there. But not so sure if he really made the real decisions. 
 
Apple has its own hardware, Google has its own hardware, MS should get better in mobile. Finland is a nice country,btw.
 
Did you mean "the super cool kid who is NOT doing drugs"?
 
Robert. Personally I am sad that Ballmer's leaving. He was a good guy to many internally, although a few dislike him as well. He's been with the company for years and has seen the growth. Its a good time to leave for him. I suspect the new CEO will come from an external source, possibly outside tech.
 
Moving R&D closer to the core is good advice for all companies. Never ever has development and technology moved so fast. Companies that fail to come up with new products, services, ideas and WAYS TO THINK will be left behind, even huge companies like Microsoft. 
 
[my opinions are my own, I don't speak for company, blah blah]
+1 for ScottGu and not just because I work for the guy.
point (3, the first 3 :-) is real key. 
 
1. 100% Agree.  Windows 8 failure was putting on a consumer focused UI onto the #1 OS used by business.  But business testers would have never okayed these design changes.  Hence you had 0 adoption from the biz.  Biz only wants stability, cloud integration and high performance.  

2. When they split in two consumer division needs a design/branding guy like Dorsey.  Business division I see Tony Bates of Skype taking over.  His public appearances are exemplary.  

3. There is a disconnect in R&D.  

3 (again).  Disagree, price point is $100 less than PS3 which sold out in its first run.  With the best exclusive title in this generation of consoles they are guaranteed to sell out in 2013, why not cash in as well.  Holidays 2014 they will drop the price $50-100 which will draw enough buzz to sell out when their production lines are cranking and component prices have dropped.  Also, by Q4 2014 their developers and 3rd party will be coming out with amazing stuff.
 
This freebie visionary advice will put Microsoft trillions of dollars ahead. I hope you partake for at least a consultation fee.
 
Well said +Robert Scoble If MS actually take 12 months to put a CEO in place those 12 months of uncertainty that you pointed out could actually put MS years behind the likes of Yahoo, Google, Facebook & Apple. Change is hard in any company but dragged out change is significantly worse!!
 
Microsoft killed their iPad killer long before they thought on the Surface tablets. It was shown as Courier and was a brilliant piece of software and hardware.
 
There are three main ways to attract people to your platform.

1.  Give the platform away (free or cheap)
2.  Have the best platform (easy to use, easy to develop on)
3.  Have the best applications on your platform

The easiest thing MS can do to encourage their Windows Phone and Tablet lines is to remove the annual cost to TEST the applications.  This supports 2 and 3.  I keep getting e-mails about them reducing the cost from $99 to $17 (but renews at $99).  Just drop the cost for the software, you can make your money back from Apps!

As long as Windows Phone is 4% of the market, it isn't worth it to developers to develop for it.  Android is like 50% (no source) and iOS is probably 40%.  Assuming each platform takes just as long to develop on, why spend 50% more dev time to just reach another 4%?

In fact, developing for Windows Phone was painfully easy.  I made the mistake of playing with Visual Studio for Windows Phone before trying to set up the Android IDE, as a result I was spoiled by the amazing piece of art that is Visual Studio.  One download, one install, and you are making stuff in minutes.

A year ago I started a annual subscription so that I could unlock up to 3 phones.  The subscription was $99.  This covered the 3 phone unlocks and my position on the MS Marketplace (which I never got around to using).

By all means, charge for the marketplace place position, I assume it pays for inspection of the apps to make sure they aren't malware.  Just don't charge for making apps and local testing.

It is also possible that it is too late.  So many companies don't bother making a Windows Phone version of their app, so the longer it takes to get market share, the harder it is to get market share.

BTW, when my subscription ran out the apps I had pushed to my phone for testing deregistered, implying that they remotely "re-locked" my phone and the apps I made must not have had valid credentials to be on the device.
 
What? Microsoft has their own R&D? I thought they just waited around and (poorly) copied what everyone else does -- just like they did when the stole the idea for the Windows OS.
 
There is no doubt that Microsoft needs to make a cultural shift.

There is geeky-coolness on the campus in Redmond, but the energy is wasted because the people at the lower levels compete with each other instead of banding together to compete against Mountain View and Menlo Park.

Whoever assumes the reins has a Herculean task ahead of them with respect to culture 2.0.
 
Reminds me of Cable & Wireless some of the best engineers Yet top brass has a tin ear. 
 
+P. Warren Brown Microsoft has by far one of the largest R&D programs in the world... They just don't really use it for some reason.
 
The xbox team seems to get it. Microsoft needs to stop trying to play catch up and innovate again. 
 
maybe they should be given the 20 percent time rule that Google took away from their ees
 
After seeing a ton of remarks on this in the news, I decided this will be my share +Robert Scoble as I was just thinking the same thing. We don't just need a visionary at the helm of MS, we need someone who is young and knows what the next generation wants, needs and does not even know they want or need yet. We need a Bill Gates.

I was lucky enough to work with a bunch of teenagers in 1999 after a divorce / starting over period. Their use of text and then MySpace showed me the way of today, then. My business has profited for the last decade due to what I saw before any marketer was talking about mobile or social.

Microsoft needs to be looking for the next next next thing and a CEO than can endure the next decade. Not a hire and fire scenario like Yahoo of late, (prior to +Marissa Mayer who I love) just to get the stock price up.

Microsoft has a huge chance to enter the sensor market too +Robert Scoble with eye pieces that work with Win 8, Xbox and wearable glasses in the real world. As a two day old Win 8 convert from Linux, I can just imagine my Win 8 tiles following me everywhere and selectable via gesture based sensors here on my desktop right now.

Can't wait for the sleeping giant to put the bong DOWN!
 
I think if Microsoft was on drug it would actually take them somewhere. 
 
Where has splitting up a company ever worked? Elephants can learn to dance, just ask Lou Gerstner.
 
What Microsoft needs:

1. The ability to use market testing and consumer testing;

2. The ability to hear NEGATIVE FEEDBACK from consumers and testers and rethink.   

3. To stop the negative marketing at other companies products and MAKE THEIR PRODUCTS BETTER than the competition.    Software isn't politics, dissin' consumers that have bought into other companies way of doing things won't make them come back to MS.

4. Actually make a shift to delivering software updates in real time.  Could Microsoft ever have done Google instant?  No.

5. Make a programming product as good as Visual Basic 3/5 again... especially if you want have a app store full of apps.

6. Break off the Office team so they can make the software work on every platform...  The whole product and nothing but the product.  Office should work the same on MacOS, iOS, Android, Windows and WP8 at the same time.

7. Make something as cheap and easy to get going as AWS with it's 1 year of free tier.    Plug and play Windows Server, MSSQL... simples.  

8. Make it easy as pie for any company, corporate, charity, business, concern to move their existing servers and software into a Microsoft Cloud.

Plus everything Robert said...
 
Drop the Windows brand from everything on the consumer side. It's a pair of cement shoes there. Make tie-ins to the enterprise add on products, not the core of the elevator pitch.

Conversely, leverage Windows on everything for the enterprise. There it ties everything together where the team has to move together.
 
#1 needs to be executed first before #2. 
Microsoft needs to forget about the competition for now and start rebuilding from the ground up. If done right, we are looking at the top dog of 2020 - Microsoft.
 
MS needs to understand internet and its digital convergence in a more micro level...the elephant needs to be more agile...lighter & swifter....in today's fast changing times...it also needs to come out with some radically new products and not me-too ones !!!
 
+Jim Posner IBM DID something like splitting up. They sold off the ThinkPad/PC division to Lenovo and made other key moves that are very similar to splitting up. Maybe Microsoft should sell off its consumer businesses like Xbox? After all, does a Sharepoint customer care whether the company sells Xbox?
 
+Robert Scoble this is the best reaction to the announcement today. I agree with you 100%. (I never agree with anyone in the tech sector lol)
 
Qualification: The smart kid on drugs that is too rich and self absorbed to admit it is on a path toward self destruction.  "Don't you know who I am, you don't want a start menu.  You want a tablet interface for your personal computer!"  IMO, they don't do tablet's well, and now they don't do Windows well.
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+AG Restringere Better yet, build a better Android than Google. Honestly, the only thing keeping me from even looking at Windows mobile is the godawful adhd look of metro. Ditch it, build a better ui on Android and I might consider buying in.
 
+AG Restringere Yep, all that and the one thing that fanboys and girls (even me) tend to forget: competition is Good!
 
Why on earth haven't they announced a successor? It looks like MS are as short sighted about running the company as they are about developing their products. They shoud have been grooming a successor for the last couple of years at least!
I make my living supporting MS products but the last couple of years have been really saddening and disheartening. Sales start to slide so what do they do? They put prices up and tighten license restrictions. Net result is you put lots of companies over the budget tipping point and they look for alternatives, sales go down more as do profits. Get great products out there, lower prices and sell bigger volumes would seem like a better route to me. But who am I other than someone who is starting to install and support none MS products. 
 
+Robert Scoble one thing I would like to see from a new Microsoft is more openness, which has played a big role in the domination of Chrome and Android (or Twitter in its early days). I'd like to see them play the open card to take on Google in search. - unlimited web API access to Bing for example. 
 
I have a good example: I own a Nokia Lumia 920, running Windows Phone 8. My feeling is: Microsoft doesn't really care about their customers. They made a page for customers where they can make suggestions for WP, but nothing of this gets realized. The completly difference: Nokia.
The Nokia Amber update (based on GDR2) has more features added than the original GDR2 Update had! So, why do they wonder that HTC, Samsung & Huawei do not sell lots of Windows Phones? Sometimes I have the feeling that Nokia cares more about WP than Microsoft.

 
+1 on the split between business and consumer. Windows 8 as an example is too toy like for business and too hostile for consumers, it is just a mish mash product trying to cater to everyone and in the end pleasing no-one.
 
You missed the most important problem. The corporate culture. 
 
+Marenco Kemp the culture comes from the top. Split Microsoft up and have it run by someone excited by the future and watch the culture get fixed. It really is a great company, you know!
 
Didn't a judge rule that Microsoft couldn't be as liberal with the using excess MS cash to invest in other companies?  I am not talking about acquisitions, but just investing.

I think the reasoning was that by doing that investing MS was investing on behalf of shareholders without their consent (instead of issuing dividends and allowing shareholders to invest their own money themselves).

If that is true, then splitting off parts of Microsoft seems to run into the same problem.  Does MS want to let go of XBox?  I would expect it to want to keep a large stake in it, even if was entirely separated.

Seems like a bad idea to split this giant umbrella company is practically a diversified portfolio all on its own.

Staying one company also makes it that easy for developers to lateral across to take a different job at the same company instead of losing talent to other companies.
 
Scott Forestall for president of Msft.  Let's see what "Steve Jobs" could do with Microsoft
 
I worked there for 7 years. :-) I don't think it is that easy. Marissa appears to be pulling it off with a company of 12,000 employees. Doing it with 100k+ employees is a different matter.
 
+Tony Stanislawski I already had that job and it was great, but I left Microsoft because it didn't have any products. Which, since I left in 2006, proved very true. What has 90,000 people shipped since then that was original and interesting? Kinect?
 
+Mark McKinlay Ballmer got rid of anyone who could have threatened him for the CEO role. Now that he's on his way out that process can begin again.
 
+Robert Scoble  is spot on.
Split the company.   Looking at the leaders....

Apple is really a consumer company who is accidentally getting into enterprise because the everyone is bring their consumer product to work.

Amazon is consumer and AWS is hidden as a footnote on their 10-Q filings.  They are waiting to spin that off.  

Google is a consumer company trying to do enterprise and really sucking at it.  It could be argued that Google does small business but not much more effectively.  

Why would you given they are the greatest Ad company on the planet.  Facebook is consumer.

No company has EVER effectively demonstrated that they can do consumer and business effectively.

You can never please 2 masters.
 
How about yourself, Mr. +Robert Scoble? Few people have better insight into context and you already live 10-15 years ahead of the rest. I bet you know what needs to be done and how to execute.
;)
 
They need someone with true passion. Someone who is willing to take some risks and is willing to use all the resources to truly innovate, instead of playing it too safe. Someone slightly younger, who is in the field and knows what everyone wants.
 
I agree with you +Robert Scoble that Microsoft needs to split. When Steve Jobs returned to Apple, he focused entirely on the consumer side and let Microsoft nab all the businesses. Windows 8 did not get adopted for some reason (well, training people to a new UI takes a lot of time), but Windows 8 was a great movement for consumers. 

Like you said, businesses take a long time to upgrade. I still see a few businesses that run Windows XP on machines. I mean, there's just too much different between consumer and enterprise software. I know MS sells different versions of W8, but still the upgrade cycle is too long. 

So they can release an OS once every three years, or five years, but consumers won't get it. If consumers don't adopt it, it is a difficult sell in the enterprise area.

I've seen a few R&D projects Microsoft has done and posted online and they're really cool. If these projects were marketed and put in real products, they'd sell. 

I think Balmer has done a good job during his time as CEO. He's reorganized Microsoft into a good company for 2010. Of course, he's a few years late. Still, Microsoft is a lot better prepared for the next decade than they were five years ago. They might actually survive. Maybe they'll pull an Apple and return to prominence. 
Ted Hu
 
by Ted Hu

- Who the Next CEO Cannot Be -  
Most Microsoft VPs and executives are good copiers after the fact. Develop and deliver a me-to product, platformed or tied in to Windows. I would love to get proven wrong with concrete products and innovations, rather than a name by reputation. Eleven years at the company, and after racking my brain, I can't enumerate anything concrete. A lost decade, as it were.

Promoting from within is a no-go. 

- Splitting MSFT Ain't Panacea -
On splitting the company; look at IBM today. Splitting and selling off worked for a while. Now it is getting commoditized nonetheless. And how Meggy is trying to do an IBM style remake at HP. But in this day and age of commoditization and cloudification, thanks to likes of Amazon and Rackspace, businesses tethered to commodity hardware and software without synergistic software and hardware value-add will inevitably get diminishing margins and growth. Of much greater strategic import is the fact that breaking up Microsoft will deny it the ability of build a viable all-around ecosystem necessary for sustained value generation, revenue growth and market relevance.

Lipstick on pigs sell no more.

- Two Areas to Nail -
The two imperative areas to really nail is better focus and superior collaboration. That may involve putting certain businesses on holding patterns vs. splitting up wholesale provided a business yields organic revenue and profit growth on par with enterprise market expectations, to focus on core products that are built with far fewer features done far better than ever.

- A Time to Hold, A Time to Split - 
Apple has holding patterns. The Mac and iPod and Apple TV for example. They will play a huge part in future  computing, but for now, they are holding on to IP, people, and products that will get reintroduced so the company can focus on building the most relevant and valuable products now. Apple is disciplined at saying and executing No as well as they can Yeses. 

Mac and iPod a huge part? Some may ask. Indeed. 

- Ideation v Commoditization -
For example, on my Mac of 7 mos, I use it to control my DVR to actually playing back, rewinding, scheduling and switching to different shows. I manage my iPhone's photostream and back that up to iCloud. With the right ecosystem and connections, the PC is then a master control panel of my life on top of its computing powers. While Mac is holding, they are prudently grafting on iOS features that provide additive value. Not shoving it in Mac OS as a kitchen sink forcing my PC into a tablet, unnaturally and unproductively.

Or think of iPod as the future remote control and playback device for the home sans 3G or 4G. Control your media or Apple TV from anywhere, any device like iPhone. But imagine a mini device like iPod where I can control and take it to bed with me watching the last 15 mins of a show, after which I set up a season pass for, all on my bed. Talk about a useful high margin product with continued relevance. 

Ideation is what Microsoft is missing, which is a function of a broken non-collaborative environment filled with backstabbing and power politics, people who believe the pie in limited and thus try to take as much of it as possible at other people's expense. Versus ideate and expand the pie. The culture and leadership isn't there to do so.

- Collaborative Creative Computing v. Cutthroat Commoditized Computing -
That leads to the second part, superior collaboration, which must involve slashing the age-old misguided and short-sighted stack ranked review system. The next CEO needs to start by removing the blanket bottom 10% pruning as that simply serves those who backstab others, or handwave and demoware shiny versus well-made things at expense of collaboration, diverse thinking and sustained building that is backed by focused novel ideation. Microsoft today is left with those who talked and demoed a big game yet we keep getting undisciplined pricey bloatware - the latest like Xbox One or Windows 8.

Apple's magic sauce is curated collaboration centered on design thinking and creation. Build a best of breed product or don't even play the game because everybody is uber-connected today - crap don't sell. And in the age of commoditization and with upcoming limits in silicon forthcoming (thanks electron tunneling limits), the future will center around less is more, product bloat slashes competitive moat, end-to-end predictable quality creation trumps mass quantity product dumping or gimmicky marcom channel stuffing crap.

- The Devil's in the Details -
Tesla to Apple took the hard way focusing on nailing the microeconomic things that really matter to customers that in turn are driving macroeconomic results. They did not go seek out profits. They sought out things they could add the most value to, often at great risk.

Only a CEO that has proven multidimensional depth of thought and experience who understands such fundamentals of value creation,  shepherding and connecting the dots of creative, collaborative artists and builders, will thrive at a Microsoft, a company with so many smart people, misled, up against so many paradigm changing companies. 
 
+Robert Scoble Why not Steven Sinofsky as a potential leader? Is he not visionary enough? I am not familiar with the other names you mention in your post, but I've followed his blog for a while and been impressed.
 
I don't think it matters who takes over this sinking ship. The board is acting at least 5 years too late and Ballmer has scared away or gotten rid of some of the stronger executives who had a chance to fill his shoes some day. Any new CEO needs to get rid of Bing and maybe only focus on the enterprise products and cut 50% of the employees working on dead-end consumer products like Windows Phone. 
 
If it is broken up then they will need multiple ceo
 
Robert run a contest for lists on what Microsoft needs to do. Haha. Hell maybe they should make the CEO position a reality show competition. Def very 2013 haha jk.
 
I dunno about the breakup +Robert Scoble. It's enticing, but it will prove its own kind of distraction and will atomize the talent and the company over a multi-year period. Perhaps instead, it's simply about letting the dying die and the living live. Apple doesn't agonize over the slow decline of PC sales, it just makes sure it makes good PCs and sells what it can. Google relentlessly kills off products periodically. Neither is perfect, but then both are out-executing Microsoft.

Look, Windows is like the part of "triple-play" cable. It's there, but no one cares. It's about collecting money until people wake up and stop paying. The strategy for Office is blindingly obvious. Beyond that, Scoble and others hit on this with a sledgehammer of accuracy: Go to what's next. Take more and more people away from what was and move them onto the next thing. Don't look at Apple or Google or Amazon, look at what makes Microsoft strong and deliver products into that model. Being someone else is not a winning strategy, breaking from the pack is. (A bit more on this at my Forbes blog, http://onforb.es/188X5WL if anyone is interested).
 
Don't worry +Mark Rogowsky  Bill Gates hates the idea of breaking Microsoft up and until Bill believes the idea, it won't happen. What I say doesn't matter at all. Just a fun conversation to have on a Friday afternoon.
 
+Michael Nestler anyone who wants me as CEO of anything shouldn't be listened to. I'd screw it up far worse than Ballmer did.
 
+Darren Donhardt EXACTLY. Multiple CEOs would unleash the value of this company more than anything. One person can NOT run this company. It has too many moving parts now. The mobile division needs almost 100% of this new CEO's attention. But at Microsoft there are 14 billion-dollar divisions. No way can the new CEO pay enough attention to one thing.
 
One of the best posts I have read from you in a while (not that your others are bad).  Couldn't agree more.
 
+Robert Scoble You know MS. You've got vision and love the future. You may be a natural to run that ship.
 
Totally agree on all your points. Apple and Google have really taken over from Microsoft in the past 10 years: partly because of their focus on mobile, but mostly because both companies are obsessed with the future. A new Microsoft CEO has to share that obsession.

In many ways Windows 8 and Windows Phone are revolutionary, but they haven't really caught on. In the past 10 years many of Microsoft's customers have moved across to Apple (both on mobile and the desktop). To win those customers back, MS needs to improve MS Office on the Mac so it matches their Windows products feature for feature. Give Mac users a great Microsoft experience and some may even consider moving back to Windows (at the very least MS will sell more copies of Office for the Mac). This seems to be working for Google: great Google apps on the iPhone have convinced some iPhone users to consider Android for their next phone.
 
I don't buy the they are 'too big' nonsense. IBM has three times as many staff as does MS and they seem to be doing fine.

MS has a choice, and it's Gates to decide. Do they dump the consumer business and the hope that they can ever be a growth company again, or do they double down on consumer and go for broke one more time?

I say, heck why not? Swing for the fences! So bring in a visionary, product focused guy, well into the mobile space and one who knows hardware. Maybe someone from Samsung?

The Enterprise business will take care of itself for a couple years while the new CEO focuses on consumer.

That's my advice. 

 
 
True +Jeff Wolfers but IBM went completely Enterprise years ago, dumped all of their consumer business so they could focus.
 
Nailed it. Maybe some execs from visionary companies like Google or Disney for the consumer end, and some old school thinkers like IBM or GE for the enterprise. And... Microsoft will loose 2 years reorganizing, but 2015 can be a good comeback year (no problem though, they're raking in the money)
 
+Aaron Hamlett IBM never had much of a consumer presence...  it's International Business Machines after all. So their foray into consumer PC's was an unnatural act that was quickly corrected. MS has done home and personal computing from day one...  so it's in it's DNA somewhere hidden.  
 
+Jeff Wolfers Again, true, but it still shows that a company can become unfocused when it tries to do too much.  Size isn't the issue, the issue is when a company loses its focus on what it does best.
 
+Aaron Hamlett All good points. MS was a crap Enterprise supplier back in the day but grew into it and now are first rate and perhaps the best out there. 

So they could sell off Xbox and all their web properties and settle into middle age as a boring old IT company. 

But my advice is to give consumer one more big shot. Blow the cash, shake things up and reach for it. 

With the right team and the right products and the right new leader who knows? Why not beat the pants off Samsung? 
 
Not just someone who loves the future. Someone who creates the future!!
 
They should hire me.
Why? Because they need an average consumer perspective to reign in all this playing catch-up with other companies. +Robert Scoble is spot on when he says think of the future. They were light years behind in tablets, social, app and basically are already behind in the wearable tech field- something that should be a given since they have the creative team behind Xbox at their disposal. They need somebody who has the balls to admit they need help to manage the giant companies within companies. Then each one can rise to the occasion as opposed to the current " average of their parts" company we all get the BSOD from :-)  does not bode well that they've been talking about it for 10 years, and having the guy they want out do the interviews. Just sayin'
 
I predict Sheryl Sandberg will be the new CEO of Microsoft.
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