Updated: What would an ex-Google exec leading Microsoft mean?


Update: Oh the perils of scheduling editorials. Microsoft announced Satya Nadella as its new CEO, so in the words of Gilda Radner, “Nevermind”. Now let’s get back to discussing violins on TV…

CEO rumors they are a-flying. Maybe it’s Stephen “Trojan Horse” Elop. Maybe it’s Alan “Too Many L’s” Mulally. Maybe it’s Matthew “Shirtless in Seattle” McConaughey (spoiler alert it’s not, but I just watched “Sahara”, so…). No, it’s gotta be Satya “I wish I had a cool nickname” Nadella. Now the latest rumor surfaces – “Ripped A-” Sundar Pichai. You probably recognize that name. That’s because he’s kinda a big wig over at another company with ties to mobile – Google. Holy Gishmoly Google? Like that Google?!? Yes. He would be an ex-Google exec, at the helm of Microsoft.

Now, let’s add some perspective to this rumor. It is exactly that – a rumor. And frankly one I don’t give much credence to. Don’t get me wrong, I’m sure Silicon Angle does some fine reporting, but it’s not like we here at Pocketnow see a whole lot coming out of Silicon Angle. A quick search of “Silicon Angle” (with the quotes) in Pocketnow shows nine results, three of which are from the same story. Actually, it’ll probably show 10 results now, but anyway. Bloomberg, who is reporting Nadella as the front runner, has nine pages of search results. Now, just because we don’t source them a heck of a lot, doesn’t mean they’re not credible nor does it mean that we don’t believe them. I’m just saying, if there’s anything smaller than a grain of salt, I’m taking this rumor with that.

scroogled_deniedScrew Scroogled

Mr. Pichai is the current SVP for Android, Chrome, and Google Apps. He certainly knows his stuff and is reportedly a driving force behind Android integration with everything. But this guy has his hand in everything – from desktop to mobile and everything in between. Such a move could bolster Microsoft’s mobile efforts as well as further drive desktop innovations. Plus, he’s coming from Google, so he would instantly squash that ridiculous Scroogled campaign and have the ad agency that came up with that fire-bombed off the face of the planet right?

Putting aside the fact that he’d be doing all of humanity a favor in that regard, I’m not so sure that’s necessarily the case anyway. Just because Pichai has roots in Google doesn’t mean that he has to be BFF’s with Google, should he become CEO. Once his paycheck reads “Microsoft” in the upper left corner, that has to be where if focus is, Google be damned. If Pichai thinks that the Scroogled campaign is the best way to advance Microsoft’s interests, then he would be absolutely deluded. But, if it’s what he truly believed, it’s also what he should do.

crusherReverse course, Mr. Crusher

Plus, Pichai wouldn’t be a wise move for Microsoft if it wishes to continue its current strategy. Microsoft’s marketing team has been making a big push for showing off its unified operating system with one interface for every aspect of your life. Google on the other hand has gone in exactly the opposite direction creating two wholly separate operating systems – one for mobile and one for desktop, if you count a gaggle of crappy netbooks and one extremely expensive netbook as “desktop” that is. Chrome OS a whole different animal from Android and that’s exactly what Microsoft has not wanted.

Microsoft changed their entire desktop operating system to be the opposite of what Chrome and Android are. Will Pichai be brought on board to right the ship and put Microsoft back where it was with desktops being desktops and tablets being tablets? I for one hope not. I’m actually looking forward to seeing that unicorn of the unified OS across all platforms. But unfortunately, that might not be where Microsoft is headed if this rumor is true.

one platform copy

Or maybe…

Microsoft may be looking to separate the platforms once more to keep its PC market share, a.k.a. its bread and butter, alive and healthy. Right now, people just aren’t upgrading to Windows 8. Quite the opposite – HP has begun selling Windows 7 PCs again for exactly this reason. No upgrading means no buying and that means no money and that means nothing good. So maybe, Microsoft’s shareholders see Pichai as a good thing. Maybe they wish to cast aside this failed experiment as it were. I don’t agree, but I could see how some might.

Not a whole lot of good has come out of Redmond since Windows 8 hit the pavement. At least not on the desktop side of things. The Surface is probably an exception to that statement – a very solid piece of hardware along with a nice touch interface that’s a bit on the chunky side, but maturing well. But all the same, I agree with Microsoft’s vision of bringing everything together under one umbrella of an uber-OS – one UI to rule them all. That is the vision I want to see upheld at Microsoft. In my view, Pichai is not the man to do that. Reversing course is almost always a disaster. Getting in bed with the enemy rarely ends well. This is a recipe for a bad bologna sandwich and here’s hoping none of us have to take a bite.

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About The Author
Adam Doud
Adam joined the tech world after watching Jon Rubenstein demo the most epic phone ever at CES 2009. He is webOS enthusiast, Windows Phone fan, and Android skeptic. He loves the outdoors, is an avid Geocacher, Cubs/Blackhawks fan, and family man living in Sweet Home Chicago, where he STILL hosts monthly webOS meetups (Don’t call it a comeback!). He can be found tweeting all things tech as @DeadTechnology, or chi-town sports at @oneminutecubs. Read more about Adam Doud!