The rumors of the past few days have been confirmed with the official announcement that Satya Nadella (photo ©OFFICIAL LEWEB PHOTOS) is the new Microsoft CEO. His predecessor Steve Ballmer remains on the company’s board of directors. Bill Gates, Microsoft co-founder, is leaving his role of President of the board of directors to John Thompson to take on the special role of technology adviser.
Satya Nadella was born in 1967 in Hyderabad, India. Emigrated to the USA, he earned an MS in Computer Science from the University of Wisconsin–Milwaukee and an MBA from the University of Chicago Booth School of Business. After working for Sun Microsystems he joined Microsoft in 1992. For the last three years he’s been the executive vice-president of Microsoft’s Cloud and Enterprise group.
The experience of Satya Nadella in the cloud sector, today in big growth, after the good results obtained previously when he ran the Redmond company’s Server and Tools division has certainly helped his selection as the new Microsoft CEO but his task will not be easy. Beyond his initial optimistic statements and the appreciation expressed by Bill Gates, the company is in a complicated situation from different points of view.
Steve Ballmer, with his effervescent style, has left his role with more shadows than lights but the problems are not all his fault. The monopolistic maneuvers carried out for many years by Bill Gates had also led to heavy fines by the antitrust authorities of the USA and the European Union. Microsoft has nonetheless enjoyed a de facto monopoly in the PC market but things have started changing in recent years and the PC market started shrinking.
Apple has been very aggressive in recent years in the field of desktops and laptops stealing market shares from the PCs. Even in the field of PC things don’t go as well as once because, in part due to the economic crisis, in many countries publich administrations are moving towards open source systems and even where Windows isn’t replaced by Linux there’s at least the abandonment of MS Office in favor of OpenOffice or LibreOffice. Users who with a bit of adventurous spirit try Linux and realize that you don’t need to be a nerd to be able to use it. They’re still a really small share but in a market that is shrinking everybody matter.
Mobile devices are becoming more and more popular but in that field the real war for dominance is between Apple and Android device makers. Microsoft is desperately trying to become important with a specific version of Windows, even buying Nokia’s mobile device division in September 2013. At least for the moment, the situation hasn’t changed and let’s not even speak of the Surface experiment, which so far is a loss for Microsoft.
In the cloud field of and of servers in general Microsoft has no dominance so Satya Nadella will have to try to improve the situation. In the last few years, the company had already started contributing to the development of the Linux kernel, which years ago Steve Ballmer had called a cancer, using this operating system on its Azure cloud systems. Will that be enough to beat Amazon and Google, the cloud sector giants?
Microsoft certainly need innovation in a world where technology is radically changing even the way we use computers. PCs with Windows and Office will remain common for quite a long time but it’s clear that limiting its business to them would mean a slow death for Microsoft. So far, the solution has been partially to threaten the Android device manufacturers to take them to court for alleged violations of some of the Redmond company’s patents. This led to agreements that are earning many millions of dollars to Microsoft and a growing reputation as a patent troll.
With Satya Nadella things have to really change offering something new instead of keeping on making money increasingly acting as a parasite. Otherwise, Microsoft’s importance will keep on declining over time.