Microsoft's Journey May Leave Too Many Behind
Microsoft's pending leadership change offers a chance to tweak its boom-or-bust "we're on a journey" message. Instead, it appears the company is simply turning up the volume.
When a company changes leadership at the top, it signals an opportunity for new ideas, fresh perspectives and, if necessary, a shift in future direction. It's also an opportunity to lay blame for past missteps at the feet of the predecessor.
Steve Ballmer's pending retirement should create such opportunities for Microsoft. While it would be wrongheaded to expect Microsoft's next CEO to throw out the company's entire recent playbook, the leadership change enables the company to gracefully tweak its ongoing "journey" message and corresponding product development to better reflect that, hey, maybe a finance pro toiling in Excel and a college student playing Xbox don't have the same needs.
That's ultimately one of the flaws in Microsoft's recent strategy, especially as it pertains to Windows: an apparent insistence that users crave a uniform experience across devices, locations and functions. Ballmer said as much himself in his recent "One Microsoft" email to employees: "About a year ago, we embarked on a new strategy to realize our vision, opening the devices and services chapter for Microsoft," Ballmer wrote. "We made important strides -- launching Windows 8 and Surface, moving to continuous product cycles, bringing a consistent user interface to PCs, tablets, phones and Xbox -- but we have much more to do." (Note: emphasis mine.)
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