The news of Steve Ballmer’s retirement is really big. The CEO of the world’s largest software company is responsible for the tools that support a huge number of businesses around the world. I wouldn’t be surprised if almost all industries are affected by Microsoft software in some way. Will Ballmer’s retirement change the world again? Will it be a good thing or a bad thing?
Of course no one knows just yet, but we do know that Microsoft had changed CEOs in the past. Originally all was overseen by Bill Gates. The transition to Ballmer has seen plenty of criticism, but if you look at the big picture, Microsoft has still been pretty successful over all. Yes, there have been some major failures (Kin, & Zune come to mind), but there have also been some significant success stories (Sharepoint & Xbox are a couple).
Granted, with a company so large, one person can’t really keep an eye on all of those products and services at all times. Steve Ballmer probably doesn’t even know what some teams and departments are working on. I’m sure he didn’t know about how Bing was putting so much more resources into their iOS apps than the Windows Phone and Windows apps a couple years ago. He probably doesn’t know that the Exchange 2013 team hasn’t made the Outlook Web Access interface compatible with the browser on Windows Phone. He probably never even heard of Windows Home Server.
So where do we go from here? If Microsoft is to find a new direction under a new CEO, things could change significantly, or they could just be more of the same. Ideally, a new CEO would bring the company together more closely just as Bill Gates seemed to do so long ago with the success of Windows 95, Office, and Internet Explorer 4. If Microsoft can find someone like that, who can promote and encourage unity, collaboration and creative innovation, it could be a huge boon for the company.
On the other hand, there’s the Apotheker effect. HP had hired Leo Apotheker as a new CEO back in November of 2011 and after 11 months he was forced to resign since so much had gone wrong in that time. He destroyed HP’s mobile device business completely, which, as we all have known for 10 years, is the future of consumer electronics. Could Microsoft’s new CEO make even more mistakes and allow the company tumble into obscurity? Will all businesses keep using Windows XP forever? It could happen.
Of course we won’t know what effect this news has on the world for years, but what’s you’re take on it? Could this be a big step forward for Microsoft or a huge step back?