Microsoft Changes and Windows 10 Release

The world's biggest software maker is creating a new group charged with making its Windows software work across all devices. Microsoft is also jettisoning some top executives, including former Nokia chief Stephen Elop.

With its Windows 10 software era about to begin, Microsoft is making some big changes to its executive lineup.

The world's largest software company is creating a new Windows and Devices Group, whose mission will be to "drive Windows as a service" across all of Microsoft's devices, from PCs to smartphones to its fitness-focused Band.

The company is jettisoning several top executives, including Stephen Elop, the former CEO of Nokia who now heads Microsoft's devices group. Microsoft paid $7.2 billion for Nokia's headset business last year, and now sells its Lumia smartphones.

The management shakeup comes as Microsoft readies the release of Windows 10 late next month.

Microsoft remains the world's largest software maker, with its Windows operating system software running on more than 90 percent of the world's computers, according to NetMarketShare. But PCs sales have steadily declined and the company had a late start on mobile devices and is struggling to keep its software relevant as developers focus on Apple's iOS mobile operating system, Google's Android OS and the Web at large. Windows software for mobile devices holds just a 2.7 percent share of the market, well behind Android and iOS.

Microsoft sees Windows 10 as a single platform that will run all apps across all devices. Developers can write to a single code base, allowing them to create so-called universal apps that will work on phones, tablets, PCs, the Xbox One game console, TVs, ATMs and even Microsoft's new HoloLens virtual-reality headset.

Windows 10 is also an attempt to atone for the missteps of the little-loved Windows 8, which was released in 2012.

The impetus behind the changes, Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella said in an email to employees Wednesday, is "to better align our capabilities and, ultimately, deliver better products and services our customers love at a more rapid pace."

Terry Myerson, now head of Operating Systems Group responsible for Windows 10, will head the new Windows and Devices Group (WDG), which will focus more on Windows personal computing. The new team will combine the company's Operating Systems Group and the Devices & Services Group currently run by Elop. The new group is charged with expand Windows beyond PCs and mobile devices.

"WDG will drive Windows as a service across devices of all types and build all of our Microsoft devices including Surface, HoloLens, Lumia, Surface Hub, Band and Xbox," Nadella said in his memo." This enables us to create new categories while generating enthusiasm and demand for Windows broadly."

Executive VP Scott Guthrie will continue to lead the Cloud and Enterprise team to concentrate on the intelligent cloud platform, especially for corporate customers.

"The C+E team will also focus on building high-value infrastructure and business services that are unique to enterprise customers, such as data and analytics products, security and management offerings, and business processes," Nadella said. "Today, we are also moving the development teams who build our Dynamics products to C+E, which will enable us to accelerate our ERP (enterprise resource planning) and CRM (customer relationship management) work even further and mainstream them as part of our core engineering and innovation efforts."

Executive VP Qi Lu will continue to lead the Applications and Services Group to focus on productivity services across all devices for users both at home and at work. The only change as part of the latest shakeup is that the effort to develop services for the educational market will now be part of Lu's group.

The changes failed to impress investors, with Microsoft's shares little changed today at trading at $45.65 at 2:21 p.m. New York Time.

"Microsoft's reorg shows that it is determined to be a part of the mobile mind shift and that its mobile efforts will benefit from closer engineering alignment with Windows," Frank Gillett, an analyst with Forrester Research, said in an emailed statement. "But having combined engineering won't make the task of growing Windows Phone or enterprise applications any easier. Both face established and entrenched competitors who will make it very hard for Microsoft to grow in these areas."

Elop had once been considered a top candidate for the role of Microsoft CEO, after returning to the company when Microsoft took over Nokia's smartphone business.

Source: CNET