Microsoft needs to hire a new CEO with a vision to make the company the market leader in a new era of enterprise software and one who will avoid the entanglements of consumer devices. Ballmer made a huge gamble on consumer demand for Microsoft gadgets, and it’s just not there. The board could make a stupendous strategic error and continue to pour billions down the drain chasing that chimera, or instead it could get with the present. Instead, hire someone who will acquire Box or Dropbox and pull in promising startups like Asana. And who will spin off, shut down, or ramp down money losing sinkholes like Surface, Windows Phone, and, yes, even Windows itself. It should definitely spin out Xbox, so maybe Windows could go with that as a short-term source of cash.
Azure may have legs, but cloud computing infrastructure is going to be a tough, tough market, with a number of wounded dinosaurs hoping to play there, like HP, IBM, Cisco, and of course, the giants like Amazon and VMware.
We’ll see how far this past year’s crash has radicalized Microsoft’s board. I don’t know Qi Lu, who now heads up Applications and Services Engineering at Microsoft, which is the enterprise computing heart of the company. He may not be the guy for this cycle at Microsoft, but it should be someone who sees that group as the future for the company. Perhaps David Sacks, the founder of Yammer. He’s a visionary, anyway, and so is Adam Pisoni, the Yammer CTO.
I still think there is a future for Microsoft, as I laid out in “Microsoft will rise from the ashes of Windows and Surface failures,” but it’s not the future Ballmer gambled on: It’s the enterprise.