The most anticipated feature of Microsoft’s (NASDAQ:MSFT) Windows 10, set for release on Wednesday, isn’t some new application. It’s the return of the traditional Start screen, which Microsoft ditched in August 2012, with Windows 8.
For that reason, Windows 10 is a lot like Coca-Cola Classic.
Let me explain.
Microsoft is marketing Windows 10 as “familiar, yet better than ever.”
Hubris in a mature market leader sometimes has a uncomfortable reward. I don’t think it is too late for Microsoft to recover and hopefully Satya Nadella realizes the right way to mine gold from a mature market. Unlike Steve Ballmer.
Microsoft’s new CEO Satya Nadella dropped the other shoe today by announcing layoffs of up to 18,000 employees over the next year. 13,000 will be announced imminently and of those, “our work toward synergies and strategic alignment on Nokia Devices and Services is expected to account for about 12,500 jobs, comprising both professional and factory workers.” I expect that, as usual, it’s better to be working for the the absorber than the absorbee.
As for the remaining 5,000, “the vast majority of employees whose jobs will be eliminated will be notified over the next six months.”
Confirming the most recent rumors, Microsoft went inside and chose 22 year veteran Satya Nadella as the new CEO. Perhaps more interesting is that board member John Thompson becomes Chairman:
Thompson has been a member of Microsoft’s board for two years. He has also been leading Microsoft’s CEO search for the past five months-plus. (In a new video clip of Thompson, which Microsoft posted today, Thompson claims Nadella was the search committee’s “first and unanimous choice” after reviewing all the CEO candidates.)
True or not, it behooves them to say so.
He is the CEO of Virtual Instruments, a company that manages virtual-physical cloud migrations and an investor in a handful of early-stage tech companies in Silicon Valley. Thompson also served as CEO of Symanec for ten years, through 2009, and on Symantec’s board until 2011. Before that, he held a variety of management positions at IBM in sales, marketing, software development for a variety of products including (somewhat ironically), OS/2.
The irony is rich in the tech business. As for Bill Gates, he and Steve Ballmer are still board members and Gates has a new title of Founder and Technology Advisor with a reported commitment of a third of his time to meet with product groups. We’ll see.
Even as Microsoft is poised to name a new CEO — it has been reported that the company will name insider Satya Nadella, head of its cloud and enterprise group — the process leading up to the announcement has emerged as, quite literally, a textbook example of how not to do CEO succession.
This isn’t how it’s supposed to work. Microsoft is a corporate aristocrat, albeit an eccentric duke, for which succession should be smooth, non-controversial, and unsurprising. Instead, at least 17 candidates were publicly speculated upon; leaks from employees and some of the candidates themselves competed for advantage in the media; a few presumed candidates, some of whom may never have been candidates at all, publicly disclaimed interest in the job; and Isle of Man bookies offered odds on the eventual winner.
And after the circus leaves town, some lucky person gets to clean up the mess left behind. Well, I’m sure he will be well compensated.