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Report: Elop could spin off Xbox, Bing, push Office on iOS, Android

updated 11:36 am EST, Fri November 8, 2013

Elop would shift Office tactics as MS CEO

Former Nokia CEO Stephen Elop, if named as the next Microsoft CEO, would reportedly consider spinning off the company's Xbox and Bing divisions. A report from Bloomberg cites sources familiar with Elop's thinking in claiming that he would strike out in a direction quite different from that of outgoing CEO Steve Ballmer. Under Elop, the report holds, Microsoft would refocus on its popular Office suite, but with the aim of pushing Office onto as many platforms as possible.

That shift would result in Office landing on devices running Apple's iOS and Google's Android. The sources claim that Elop would abandon Microsoft's current strategy of using Office to prop up its struggling Windows 8 platform, which has seen difficulties in attracting consumer interest.

Reportedly, Elop sees more value in Microsoft maximizing sales of Office across the predominant platforms. To date, Microsoft has hinted at the possibility of Office on iOS and Android, and previous rumors have pegged the productivity suite for a cross-platform debut in 2014. The company has remained non-committal on the idea, though, as it attempts to expand the base for Windows 8 and Windows RT devices.

That reluctance to open up Office to other platforms is thought to have hurt Microsoft's standing. The Office productivity suite is still the default throughout the enterprise sector, but competitors have made up ground. Google is continually improving its Google Drive productivity offerings, striving toward a comparable, if not equal, free alternative to Office. That suite is built into Google's Android platform, which is quickly becoming the most popular operating system in the world.

Meanwhile, Apple took a swipe at Microsoft with the release of iOS 7, noting that its iWork and iLife software would be free with the purchase of a new iOS device. That development could cut down significantly on any potential desire for Microsoft's offerings on iOS devices.

Aside from expanding Office's reach, Elop is also said to be prepared to sell or shut down other Microsoft arms in order to increase its focus. Reportedly, Elop would consider shutting down or spinning off Microsoft's Bing search engine, which is the second-most popular search engine in the United States, but still a far cry from the market share of Google.

Additionally, Elop could look to shut down the company's Xbox game console division. This division has lost Microsoft billions of dollars over the years, but it has positioned the company as a major player in the coming battle for the consumer living room. The Xbox division's overall success in terms of mindshare, if not profitability, is said to be the thing that keeps that arm off the chopping block in Elop's mind.

Elop, of course, has not secured the top spot at Microsoft. The former Nokia chief is but one among five candidates said to be on the shortlist for CEO. Alongside Elop are Ford CEO Alan Mulally, Oracle president Mark Hurd, former Skype CEO Tony Bates, and Satya Nadella. Current CEO Steve Ballmer has said that he will retire within the next nine months or so, meaning that one of those names will likely very soon step into the lead role.



By Electronista Staff
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Comments

  1. Makosuke

    Forum Regular

    Joined: 08-06-01

    Why would he want to get rid of a game platform that is losing the company a billon dollars a year?

    Oh, wait. He's probably not used to running a former predatory monopoly riding on profits from legacy enterprise products (and Android licensing) that can keep massively unprofitable product lines on life support in the belief that if you can ride out your competitors you'll eventually be able to turn them into monopolies or at least profit-drivers some year.

  1. coffeetime

    Mac Enthusiast

    Joined: 11-15-06

    I think Microsoft shutting down XBOX division is a bad move. If I were the CEO, I would shutdown mobile device division completely. XBOX has already established a good amount of customer base and it just need a more creative way to earn its profit. Where as MS mobile devices are totally a dead end street.

  1. Coil0110

    Fresh-Faced Recruit

    Joined: 08-07-01

    There are 50 million paying users of xbox live. Shutting down the service sounds like a really good idea to me.

  1. Makosuke

    Forum Regular

    Joined: 08-06-01

    Coil0110: There are a lot of paying XBL users, but if the division is still losing vast amounts of money to acquire/maintain those users--which that recent analyst report claims to be the case, though of course it could be wrong--it doesn't really matter.

    It falls into the category of "we lose money on every sale, but we'll make it up on volume." Maybe they really will turn a profit on the division some day, but it sure looks like the plan is to just ride out Nintendo and Sony until they can drive them out of the market, which may or may not ever work--if iOS eats their lunch or the Steam set top box steps in where Nintendo/Sony falls, they'll never reach their goal.

  1. pairof9s

    Mac Enthusiast

    Joined: 01-03-08

    Agree w/ Makosuke...businesses are not run on popularity but profits.

    Still, if you're a Microsoft shareholder, you have to like this type of overall approach in contrast to Fatbaby Ballmer's reign. It seems much more rooted in the reality of today's technology trends.

  1. Mr. Strat

    Junior Member

    Joined: 01-23-02

    Getting rid of Monkey Boy is a good step, but the only way the company could do worse is if Obama were running it.

  1. unsean

    Fresh-Faced Recruit

    Joined: 11-10-13

    Mr. Strat, it's really irritating when you put your political viewpoints into posts that had nothing to do with them – which wouldn't be such an issue if they weren't bs – care to provide some evidence of the nonsense you're regurgitating from somewhere(the 'Obama' nonsense, not about Balmer)?

  1. shawnde

    Fresh-Faced Recruit

    Joined: 04-01-08

    I think Stephen FLOP, should stick to his Nokia strategy ... i.e. run the business to the ground, lose massive amount of money quarter after quarter, fire thousands of talented staff, and eventually make the company an acquisition target. Then Google will come along and buy them at the right price. It only makes sense. Google is the new Microsoft, so they might as well buy themselves some heritage.

  1. xomniron

    Fresh-Faced Recruit

    Joined: 10-17-13

    On the one hand, unsean has a point. On the other, Mr. Strat makes an excellent analogy ...right up there with "if the gov't was in charge of the Sahara Desert, in five years we'd be out of sand." Back when Microsoft was trying to install itself as a monopolistic quasi-gov't entity, Apple (and Steve Jobs) was the one who provided free-market competition to the industry. Slowly, but surely, Microsoft has lost its advantages and been forced to play by the same rules as everyone else. Would that Mr. Obama and his regime do the same. Gov't is the referee. They shouldn't also be one of the players. I think that was Mr. Strat's fundamental point ...and thus it IS relevant to this discussion.

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