Steve Sinofsky, Bill Gates, blah. Microsoft doesn’t need an old-guard insider taking over the reins as Steve Ballmer retires. It needs someone with the right mix of energy, experience and creativity to take the company in exciting new directions. At this very critical juncture, Microsoft requires a leader that can finally help it compete against the likes of Apple and Samsung, while keeping its Office and enterprise products humming along. Although dozens of names are floating around, these are the executives I would tap to get the job done.
A Googler jumping ship for Microsoft? It sounds blasphemous, but if we’re talking about a new direction for the company, Pichai could be just the right fit. As a senior vice president at Google, Pichai oversees Android, Chrome and Google Apps, which is an enormous amount of responsibility. It also proves that Google has the faith in Pichai to eventually unify its mobile and desktop platforms. Microsoft is on a similar path now with Windows 8 and Windows Phone 8. And given that he also leads the group responsible for the Chromecast and Google TV, this exec has the trifecta of expertise Microsoft needs to lead its next stage of growth.