updated 10:50 pm EST, Mon February 7, 2011
Ballmer promoting senior engineers as top staff
Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer was said on Monday to be overhauling the company's executive structure in a bid to better compete against Apple and Google. The plan would promote senior engineers that would have experience in areas where Microsoft has historically been weak, such as in cloud computing, phones and tablets. The move tipped off to Bloomberg would likely be to get an understanding of what would truly be possible for future projects.
The swaps could take place as soon as this month.
Some of the vacancies may have already been cleared out. Server division head Bob Muglia was effectively tossed in January as Ballmer wanted someone that could compete on better terms with Google. Suspicions have also been raised that executives such as J Allard and Robbie Bach may have also faced pressure to leave over projects like the Courier tablet, although that has been publicly denied.
Ballmer has been pushed by Microsoft's board of directors to make conspicuous changes that disrupt a longstanding corporate culture. Many of the CEO's closer advisors have been long-serving veterans of the company whose direction may have led to the company's current state. New staff would both get top management out of its conventional thinking and reassure the board that the company wouldn't repeat its familiar path.
In addition to losing hundreds of millions of dollars each quarter in an unsuccessful attempt to challenge Google in web apps, search and tools, Microsoft has shown little sign of success with its recent mobile turnaround. Windows Phone 7 has yet to reverse share losses to Android, the iPhone and the iPad. The company's tablet strategy is also in a holding pattern and isn't expected to recover until a touch-native Windows 8 is ready in 2012. Executives that could more closely guide OS strategy could theoretically move faster and get many features closer in step with competitors.