A lot of attention is being paid to who’s out as part of Microsoft’s executive reorganization, announced earlier today. But just as interesting is who’s moving up.
Terry Myerson, the executive vice president in charge of the company’s operating systems group, is getting a much larger role as the head of a newly combined Windows and Devices Group, bringing together the company’s operating system business with its first-party devices — ranging from Surface tablets and the HoloLens headset to Lumia smartphones and the Xbox hardware group.
The move coincides with the departure of Stephen Elop, the former Nokia CEO who rejoined Microsoft as part of the Nokia smartphone acquisition.
Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella said in his memo to employees that the change is designed to enable Microsoft’s vision “of a more personal computing experience powered by the Windows ecosystem.”
So what does this mean, in a practical sense?
Ideally, the combination would portend more seamless connections between Microsoft’s hardware and software. Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella likes to cite the example of clicking the Surface Pro 3 pen to open a OneNote file, and while that app is part of a different group, it’s the type of integration that could become more common between Windows and Microsoft’s devices as a result of this change. (Of course, declaring a reorg and getting teams to actually work together are two different things.)
The executive changes bring tons of internal political implications at the highest levels of the company. With the changes, Myerson has “quickly become the most powerful guy at Microsoft under Satya Nadella,” says Business Insider’s Julie Bort.
Others are speculating that this could lead to Microsoft exiting some elements of its hardware business, such as Windows Phones. However, Mary Jo Foley at ZDNet says she isn’t buying that. She writes, “Instead, my take is Nadella is making good on what he said a year ago: That hardware at Microsoft, these days, has a supporting role. Microsoft is using its hardware to showcase its software and services.”
Dina Bass at Bloomberg says Myerson’s job just got even tougher: “With the personal-computer market slumping, he will have to chart how Microsoft makes money from Windows. He also will have to prove the value of Windows over other operating systems as Microsoft’s Office apps team focuses on product development and acquisitions to offer strong applications for Apple’s iOS and Google Inc.’s Android mobile operating systems.”
One thing is clear: Satya Nadella may have inherited Microsoft from Steve Ballmer, but more and more, he’s putting his own stamp on the company.