A possible management shake-up in the Microsoft camp is due to throw up senior product executives with engineering muscle at the top to tackle the might of Apple and Google in the smartphone, tablets and cloud domains.
Bloomberg reported that the changes may be announced this month citing two people who are cognizant of the stated decision. The primary focus of change is to bring employees with technical background to the management level to run specific product divisions.
The report follows some high profile departures from the Microsoft camp in 2010 which included Bob Muglia, who had been the president of its server division for 23 years. Also the architect of its cloud strategy, Chief Software Architect, Ray Ozzie, the man behind the crucial 'disruptive memo' left in October. Other departures include Business Division President Stephen Elop, who is now the CEO of Nokia, J Allard, senior vice president of design and development and Xbox and entertainment and devices chief Robbie Bach.
Seattle PI reported that Dave Thomson, corporate vice president who headed its Office 365 business or BPOS is due to retire later this year. The Register reported that Microsoft's consumer marketing boss Brad Brooks was poached by Juniper Networks in January.
Microsoft's attempt to reshuffle its management would be to target key domains like smartphones, tablets, cloud-computing and intellectual property.
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Microsoft launched its new OS for smartphones in October 2010. The launch came after it discontinued its social network oriented smartphone Kin. The premature death of the smartphone cost Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer 100 percent of his allocated 200 percent bonus. The WP7 is fighting against Google's Android and Apple's Ios 4.3. Also in the fray BlackBerry maker RIM with its new OS QNX and HP with its Palm acquired webOS.
Otherwise, Microsoft is still struggling to find the right OS. Having stated that WP7 is not the OS for tablets, its Windows 7 has found acceptance as the favored OS for tablets. However tablets running on Windows 7 are beset with issues like low battery life and are heavier than Android and Apple tablets. Also, Microsoft demonstrated its new Windows OS specifically for crafted for an ARM chip design ate the CES 2011. The chip manufacturers will include players like NVIDIA, Qualcomm and Texas Instruments a departure from its usual partners AMD and Intel. Thus Microsoft is looking for the right OS as an alternative to its Windows 7 which is too feature rich for tablets and WP7 which is for a smaller form factor like smartphones.
Microsoft and Google are locked in a tussle to acquire cloud-based deals at federal, state and local government levels. Recently, Google won temporary relief in its cloud-war against Microsoft as it restricted the U.S. Interior Department from handing a $59 million contract to Microsoft. Microsoft also recently released an online version of its Dynamic CRM software to glean users from Saleforce and Oracle. It is also competing with VMware in the server virtualization domain.
The smartphone and tablets competition has also increased patent lawsuits being filed by companies to protect their market share. Microsoft is itself pitched in a patent battle with Motorola related to smartphones. However, Microsoft gained much limelight regarding patents when it led a consortium CTPN to acquire 882 Novell patents as part of Attachmate's $2.2 billion acquisition of Novell. Apple, EMC and Oracle are also part of the consortium. The primary motivation behind the acquisition has been highly debated with some surmising it as a pre-emptive strategy while the FOSS community says it is Microsoft's attempt to gain royalties from patents. Microsoft also licensed 74 patents from Acacia Research Corp. and Access Co. Ltd, a Japanese firm that had acquired PalmSource. The portfolios of patents are related to smartphone technologies and also included IP rights over technologies created by Palmsource. Microsoft also had to shell out $200 million to VirnetX which had filed a patent case against Microsoft in 2007.
The demands are heavy on Microsoft even as the IT landscape is in a state of flux. Disruptive technologies have shifted the balance with web-based applications now gaining traction compared to native apps which is putting Microsoft's licensing model to test. Hence, its management change reveals the restlessness within the company about the future.