Moments after Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer announced he would be retiring within 12 months, the company’s stock shot up 8 percent. That probably didn’t make the extremely animated and passionate tech leader too excited, but there is plenty of reason to be optimistic about Microsoft’s future. The company still has the leading PC operating system, the most popular and profitable productivity suite in Office and the No. 1 selling gaming console in the Xbox 360, with the Xbox One on the way. Microsoft also happens to be sitting on $77 billion in cash. Still, Ballmer missed the mobile boat, getting blindsided by both the iPhone and the iPad, and there are serious questions about whether Microsoft is doing enough with Windows 8.1 to save the PC.
Here are five things Microsoft’s next CEO needs to do to make the company thrive during the next decade.
This idea might sound radical, but separating the business and consumer divisions of Microsoft would go a long way toward increasing focus for the respective product teams while maximizing shareholder value. Office 365 could be its own business, given its import, but at the very least, all of the business software and enterprise-oriented services should go under one roof. Consumer-focused initiatives, like Windows Phone and Xbox, would go under another.
Microsoft should be doing a much better job of leveraging Skype and Lync and fighting off startups that are trying to kill email. At our office, we're using HipChat for instant messaging because it's easy to create rooms for different groups, making it extremely easy to collaborate. And it works equally well on Macs and PCs. Lync is a mess on my Mac; I can't even add contacts without jumping through hoops. I'm not arguing for setting up silos or a lack of cooperation across the two groups or subsidiaries, but they definitely need to be separated for the good of the overall company.