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back to article Hey, Bill Gates! We've found 14 IT HOTSHOTS to be the next Steve Ballmer

Now for that question everybody's asking: who will be the new Microsoft chief exec once Steve Ballmer slips into retirement by next year? The software giant's co-founder and chairman Bill Gates, fellow company board member John Thompson and executive recruitment agency Heidrick & Struggles are tasked with cracking that puzzler …

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Facepalm

An obvious choice

If they don't choose Kevin Turner (current COO) then they really have, royally, lost their way.

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Re: An obvious choice

Don't know about that - with Ballmer going so many people are crying out for a technologist to replace him, rather than a businessman. Some say that MS's problems of the last decade have been down to being driven by short-term financial performance rather than longer-term technological promise. KT can certainly run the business, but has he got this vision to put MS back where it was under Gates?

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Re: An obvious choice

Thats a fair point @Nightfox but the buying masses, esp the corporates don't buy from technologists (in fact often they are put off from the hardcore tech chaps/chapettes), they buy into the N year roadmap and from what I've seen, KT can sell whatever he's pushing. He seems very credible to me.

Maybe the job is just too big for a single person to span the needs of such a large organisation. Can't please all the people all the time and all that.

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Re: An obvious choice

which does beg the question - is the answer to break MS up? (and thats a business question not a monopoly one)

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Re: An obvious choice

Yes, interesting - maybe you need the consumer-orientated side to be led by a Gates/Jobs type visionary, and the business customer-focused side of MS put in the hands of a traditional CEO.

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Re: An obvious choice

>the consumer-orientated side to be led by a Gates/Jobs type visionary, and the business customer-focused side of MS put in the hands of a traditional CEO.

Which would imply that the actual CEO needs to be someone who can handle the obvious conflicts between these two heads to keep everyone going in the same direction and reassure the market/investors. So perhaps they need to look outside of IT...

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Linux

Re: An obvious choice

Now that Elop's nearly finished destroying Nokia, surely he's the ideal person to complete Balmer's job of destroying MS?

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FAIL

Re: An obvious choice

Kevin Turner is not a good choice. I say that as an ex-Microsoft employee. He signs all his emails off with "Thank you for all that you do." *Almost* as patronising as Dick Brown's email sign-off "And remember.... Action, urgency, excellence!"

Anyway, Kevin Turner is not liked internally at Microsoft. He's a poor fit, not least because he's not a techie, and understands Microsoft's market even less than Ballmer does.

Microsoft needs someone that understands that *all* OS's (WinRT, Windows, Windows Server and Windows Phone) need to be on the same release cycle. The next thing Microsoft needs is ONE coherent strategy for dev. That means merging VBA, .NET, Silverlight for Windows Phone and Windows Runtime. It also means coalescing Windows Forms, WPF and Silverlight into a common UI framework.

That said, I've no idea how they're going to do that last one. GDI/DGI+ uses direct rendering, and Silverlight/WPF uses delayed rendering via DirectX (hardware acceleration). In a perfect world, whatever Microsoft come up with will mix hardware acceleration with WinForms' event-driven model.

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Re: An obvious choice

The battling business units are MSFTs big problem - and the reason Win8 failed.

When your main app, MS-Office doesn't use any of the features of your new OS because they had their own release schedule and your main dev tool doesn't make it easy (or even possible) to write apps using your new interface because their manager doesn't like the other manager - you are screwed.

You can't picture this happening under Jobs - imagine iPhone not working with iTunes because of a sulking minion !

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Facepalm

Re: An obvious choice

Oh god, you had to remind me of Dick Brown's emails and... the... everpresent... ...'s

It just goes to remind me how badly someone can screw up a company.

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Re: An obvious choice

They don't need a new CEO, they need design group or reopen the one they shut down and focus on the aesthetics of their UI and hardware. Basically they need a Jonathan Ive and a boat load of talented designers. What if Ballmer had convinced Gates not to kill the the Courier Tablet? I still think it is not too late and they should bring back the original team to work on it.

http://news.cnet.com/8301-10805_3-20128013-75/the-inside-story-of-how-microsoft-killed-its-courier-tablet/

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Happy

Oooh, Ooooh

Me, me, me. I'll do it.

I'm cheap too. I only want a Million a year

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Joke

Re: Oooh, Ooooh

I am afraid we have already found the guy. His name, is Eadon.

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Anonymous Coward

Gabe Newell

Ex Microsoft employee who hates Windows 8, and founded and runs a company worth billions. Perfect.

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Joke

Re: Gabe Newell

He'll pass. The conditions of his contract stipulate delivery of Half Life 3 before the end of the century.

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Re: Gabe Newell

He was first on my list - ex MSFT, "gets" the IT space, delivered a liked DRM-esque delivery system (Steam), grasps the presentation to the consumer, "the cloud", obviously he gets games, and how to deliver software as a service. Mobile is the weak spot, which is a BIG problem as MSFT needs to nail that, which is something it has consistently failed to do.

Also, not actively hostile to Linux and open source. Chair throwing ability unknown.

The only problem is I'd like to see a new to MSFT person, free of the constraints of the past take this up.

Picking internal is too stagnating. Look down the coast at Cupertino, Tim Cook is Apple through and through, and is doing a really average job there (not yet Ballmeresque, but it's still early days). He seems to just "expand via lawyers" rather than doing something new. All he's done is keep the Jobs status quo (insert your own "whatever you want" joke in here), not made it a Cookian Cult; Apple has stagnated under him. As I said, not as actively damaging as Ballmer, but stagnation.

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Microsoft is a Server and OS company

I don't really care who takes over the helm at Microsoft as long as the new person realises that Microsoft is primarily an OS and Server company.

The new person needs to get the company to focus on these two areas and needs to be able to see the company's products from the perspective of the user.

This, I believe, was Steve Jobs' great gift. He saw himself as the User and all products had to impress him. Since he set his standards quite high, what impressed him, impressed many others too. The new Microsoft CEO needs to be able to place him or herself in the position of the typical developer, home-user, DBA, office worker and build products that people would choose of their own accord, rather than be told to use them.

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Re: Microsoft is a Server and OS company

I thought Jobs' thing was marketing, which is slightly different from Sales.

In sales, you only lie to one person at a time. Ballmer is an expert at sales but Jobs could lie to the whole world.

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Re: Microsoft is a Server and OS company

It doesn't matter what MS is at the moment. What matters is a CEO that understands that MS has to become something else.

Computing for the masses has moved from the PC to the tablet and the smartphone. Does MS want to be on those markets ?

Gaming is mostly done on consoles. Building games is expensive and risky, successes are few and far between. Does MS want to stay on that market ?

Business and servers are the top-of-the-line margin makers, but the Cloud is capable of eating MS's lunch. Ironically, it's MS's fault already, since Office is doing everything it can to move people away from PCs (where it sells Windows) to the Cloud (where it doesn't). I see a disconnect there, one that MS will pay for dearly in the years to come. Either that or MS has already understood that the PC is a dead dodo (for the mass market that is) and tablets are the future.

Come to think of it, that explains a lot about the Start button issue.

Servers are where its at, margin-wise, but MS already has plenty of healthy competition there.

No, I'm sorry, but any way I look at it, MS as it was is finished. It is time to boldly go . . . somewhere. The choice of CEO is going to be a very interesting one for a lot of people.

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Re: Microsoft is a Server and OS company

What this man says. Well said @deadlockvictim

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Microsoft is a Server and OS company

Seeing yourself as a demanding user is marketing, not sales.

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Facepalm

Re: Microsoft is a Server and OS company

I don't really care who takes over the helm at Microsoft as long as the new person realises that Microsoft is primarily an OS and Server company.

OSs and servers is what Microsoft have traditionally done -- and Office, I suppose -- but the world is changing and those things may not be enough. MS have seen the success that others, notably Apple, have had selling media as well as apps through an online 'store', and they want some of that pie. They may need to have some of that pie to survive.

The question is whether they can change their business to cash in on that new market without losing their place in their traditional markets and so losing the loyalty of their customers.

They've been moving in that direction for some time -- adding baked-in DRM to Windows in Vista, adding a store in Windows 8, and making that store common to Windows on x86 and on ARM (hence TIFKAM) -- but doing so SO badly and managing to piss off just about everyone.

They couldn't find their way forward under Ballmer, but maybe someone else can manage to do so (I can't say that it looks all that hard).

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Rational?

Rudder also passed on purchase of Rational tools, leaving the way clear for IBM to gobble the software maker.

Bloody good thing, too. TFS is so much better than ClearCase, it's not even funny. I don't want to start any internet nerdwars here and this may be the absolute worst kind of heresy but....

even SourceSafe is better than ClearCase.

There. I said it.

And it's true. Okay so SourceSafe doesn't know about things like branching, labelling or not being a steaming pile of shit but at least when it eats your code never to return it, it doesn't claim that you never had any code to begin with.

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Coat

Re: Rational?

Comment has all the earmarks of someone who couldn't be arsed to RTFM.

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Re: Rational?

o rly?

Clearcase is an awful, awful product. (I actually typoed "prodfuct" there for a moment, which is accurate). It is so fucking awful that nobody serious uses it anymore outside IBM itself. It is clunky. It integrates badly with IDEs. It refuses to play ball with pretty much anything except Rose, even including Robot and XDE from the same alleged product suite.

Anyone who cared about source control switched to SVN and then further to TFS or git, depending on their platform. These days, you can even use TFS for all the project management gubbins and git for source control, seamlessly in VS.

Anyone who uses clearcase and claims to be serious about source control is a liar.

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QdK
Mushroom

Another candidate...

Rick Belluzzo! I'd love to see that happen!

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Headmaster

Re: Another candidate...

Oh, Belluzo already served MS for while.. I think just shortly after leaving HP? Well, at least MSFT recovered from Rick quickly. I don't think he'd be a real candidate, but you never know.. Speaking of HP, well, did anybody mention Leo Apotheker already? A software guy, and most likely available directly now.

Last, but not least, the folks whose heads more or less got chopped at HP recently, Todd Bradley or Dave Donatelli?

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Anonymous Coward

How the world changes

Paint me Sid Sexist but I was surprised (and pleased - honest) at the number of ladies in the list. The US seems to be a long way ahead of British business, when it comes to closing the gender gap. What? A woman? In charge of Microsoft, you say?

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Re: How the world changes

Not a bad idea, but not Ms! Mayer! please.

Taking her seriously would indicate a need to take Yahoo! seriously, which is not an option.

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Re: How the world changes

Just when you thought Windows couldn't get more pastel then 8...

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Pint

Re: How the world changes

"...What? A woman? In charge of Microsoft, you say?..."

If she can pass the furniture-throwing test, who's going to stand in her way?

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Windows

Re: How the world changes

She seems to pass the test of basic decision making.

Spot problems.

Fix them.

And strangely it seems to work.

A bit like Alcoholics Anonymous and Yahoo of a year ago, I think the first thing they have to do is admit there is a problem.

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Re: How the world changes

If she can pass the furniture-throwing test, who's going to stand in her way?

Someone who can catch furniture?

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Divergent Interests Lead To Different Questions.

While I don't deny that the question of Ballmer's successor is both significant and important, what actually concerns me is how much further he is going to run Microsoft into the ground before he actually leaves.

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Coat

Steve Bong, surely?

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Bog - I mean Bong - could certainly be wafted in as Chief Innovagineer.

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+1 for 'Innovagineer'

See title.

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IT Angle

We've found 14 IT HOTSHOTS

But are there 14 “hotshots” who want the job?

The Board [bored] has been dozing at the wheel for a decade or more… but it seems to have suddenly woken up [too late] when the company has come off the rails.

So the questions are:

Do the Bored know what they want?

Do the Bored know what they need?

Do the Bored know what they can do?

Do the Bored know what will make investors feel secure?

The last decade tells us that the answer is NO on all counts.

Given the Bored and the total lack of company coherence, cooperation and cohesion one has to assume that only a “snake oil salesmen” would want the job [whatever it might be].

Therefore, choosing the “new leader” will rely entirely upon serendipity.

Personally, I wouldn’t look for a “new leader”.

Just break up the company into separate business units… sink or swim.

However, I guess the Bored will look for someone who “loves the company” and can tell the Bored [with a straight face] that he will “restore their former glory”.

So please welcome: Stephen Elop [and please hand that man a chair and his three envelopes].

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Facepalm

Re: We've found 14 IT HOTSHOTS

The Board [bored] has been dozing at the wheel for a decade or more… but it seems to have suddenly woken up [too late] when the company has come off the rails

Tripled revenues, doubled profits and at least four new profit-making divisions. Off the rails indeed! MS is ruined! Thank Kibo you can see it, Malagabay because those millions of investors earning big dividends (I realize that to internet commentards, dividends are a new concept and only market cap matters but to investors things are different) sure can't.

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Re: We've found 14 IT HOTSHOTS

The “dead cat bounce” in the share price when the “dead cat bounced” indicates that plenty of others “see it” and feel it…

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Please please please

Let it be Elop. For all the good it would do Nokia, Microsoft and the rest of the world.

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Re: Please please please

Nokia are only slowly heading off in the same direction as RIM / Blackberry. But at this point I don't see a way back for Nokia. They had a decision to make. They took made a bad One. and this is where they now find themselves. I just hope that there foray into Surface / RT isn't the Straw that breaks their Back.

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Re: Please please please

All the people saying Nokia are failing are just not looking at the current facts. They are selling the Lumia phones as fast as they can make them, the uptake of Windows Phone is increasing rapidly in almost all markets and the low-price models are showing up in the best-sellers lists. Even the new Nokia RT tablet may save that OS, once the networks start offering them on subsidized contracts.

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Re: Please please please

Nokia's RT adventure is just Flop trying to get on message and back into MS after failing to get MS to buy Nokia last year. If Nokia's board don't kick him out now then Nokia will be dead and buried next year. Unfortunately if MS' board are asleep then Nokia's board are in a coma.

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Re: "the uptake of Windows Phone is increasing rapidly in almost all markets"

That may be true, but double of not much is still not much.

Call me on that when the uptake of Windows Phone reaches the 50% market point.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Please please please

I'm guessing you are totally unaware of the cancelled Nokia expansion into Vietnam for manufacuring, or the massive downscaling and mothballing of lines in Chenai and Dongguan then..

Lumia has flopped, Windows Phone has flopped, the app stores are as barren as they have always been, Surfact RT is worthless junk.

Yet somehow you seem to the headline growth figures (but with undisclosed actual numbers) and have fallen hook line and sinker into the hype.

Don't you get it? Microsoft are cash rich, they can pay anyone in the media to say whatever they want. At the same time, Windows RT and Windows phone are criticial to their future success, they have no plan B.

I can only assume you ended up with a Windows Phone, and the only person you are convincing in you. Don't worry, Nokia will be long gone by time your contract renewal is up, and you can put it down to experience that you should never believe online reviews, or what the bloke in the phone store told you.

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Mushroom

It's got to be Elop

The guy is perfect for the role, he's completely fucked over Nokia by discarding something that was working fine and ramming something else down everyone's throats that no-one wants. He would be a natural at Microsoft.

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Meh

Re: It's got to be Elop

Tell me then, oh MS-Hater, what do Microsoft have that's working fine which Elop would replace?

Waiting....

Nope, didn't think so. Cheesy shot at Elop which made no sense whatsoever then?

Thought so.

Now personally, I think Elop would both be a terrible choice and would refuse it anyway. I think he's genuinely committed to Nokia and does indeed stand a chance of turning their smartphone business around. The 520 is eating landfill Android's lunch and it's a gateway drug.

I think he'd be a terrible choice because he's a guy who examines a problem and comes up with a solution - just one solution - which he will pursue no matter what internet fucktards say about it. In many ways that's an admirable trait but Microsoft's portfolio is far too large for it work there.

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Re: but Microsoft's portfolio is far too large for it work there.

Their portfolio [of loss leaders] is far too large to work [here, there or anywhere].

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