You’ve probably already heard that Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer will be stepping down from his position within the next 12 months. The company’s Board of Directors has formed a special committee that will be responsible for hunting down candidates suitable for the soon-to-be vacated position.
Some think that Ballmer’s imminent departure is no surprise, stating that the recent reorganization to streamline Windows, Windows Phone, Xbox, Surface, Office 365 as well as other products and services, was a signal that Microsoft is in need of a new leader.
Though the reorganization was viewed by many as a good move on Microsoft’s part, the efforts have yet to fully pay off.
The ups and downs of Microsoft Services
Microsoft has been confident that users will be happy with the Windows 8.1 update that is coming out soon. Unfortunately, the tweaks they’ve made so far aren’t exactly what users want – though making it a first-time user friendly application doesn’t hurt. Consumers want a real start button, not something almost like it.
Lenovo seems to be the one listening to all the gripes being thrown at Microsoft, as they will be shipping computers running Window 8.1 with Pokki app, software that serves as an alternative Windows application marketplace and Start Button replacement. It has a real start button and menu that are lacking in Windows 8. Though it may seem that Lenovo is out to get Microsoft, it’s merely filling in the gaps, ultimately a good thing for Windows 8.1 sales.
Another good thing Microsoft has going for it is that the latest version of Hortonworks Data Platform (HDP), which has been made available for Windows Server 2008 R2 and Windows Server 2012, has brought Hadoop to a billion users.
The Xbox One announcement left a lot of gamers disappointed, so Microsoft is scrambling, hoping not to lose users to Sony’s PlayStation 4. Microsoft recently announced that it will update its player reputation model for the the new console to do away with the flood of harassment and cheating that gamers currently face. Players will be able to give direct feedback to other players, or even block and mute troublesome players. The data gathered from a player’s interaction with others will be used to create a profile to determine whether the player does need to learn some manners in interacting with other players.
Microsoft also recently lost a trademark dispute in the UK ruling that the software giant must rename SkyDrive. The name infringes UK’s Sky Broadcasting Group’s “Sky” trademark. Speaking of cloud, Microsoft recently added Engine Yard’s platform-as-a-service into its Windows Azure marketplace in hopes of making it more appealing to developers by allowing the option of using Engine Yard instead of Azure’s platform features.
In addition to Ballmer’s departure some time next year, a few services will also disappear: Games for Windows Live will be discontinued on July 1, 2014, and Microsoft Tag will be discontinued on August 19, 2015.
Though some of the Microsoft divisions haven’t seen much change, at least Windows Phone is doing quite well. In Latin America, the IDC reported that it is now the second most used mobile platform. It has managed to surpass BlackBerry and Apple and is now in second place behind Android. The huge success is attributed to the many Windows Phone-based Nokia devices available at varying prices in the market. Windows Phone is able to deliver the same user experience regardless of whether the device is a high-end, mid-range, or low-end Lumia phone.
Will a new CEO be able to make everything run smoothly for Microsoft or will chaos ensue? We have about one year to find out.