Microsoft's post-Labor Day week was marked by the sudden departure of Business Division president Stephen Elop, a BPOS outage, and a Windows Phone prediction by research firm IDC.
Microsoft ended its post-Labor Day week with something of a
major personnel shakeup: Stephen Elop, president of the company's Business
Division, stepped down to become CEO at Nokia.
"I am writing to let you know that Stephen Elop has been
offered and has accepted the job as CEO of Nokia and will be leaving Microsoft,
effective immediately," Microsoft
CEO Steve Ballmer wrote in a Sept. 9 email to company employees
leaves in place a strong business and technical leadership team, including
Chris Capossela, Kurt DelBene, Amy Hood and Kirill Tatarinov, all of whom will
report to me for the interim."
While Microsoft and Nokia have collaborated on porting the
former's Office software onto smartphones, starting with Nokia's Eseries, the
two companies' mobile platforms also compete in the broader marketplace. Microsoft
and its manufacturing partners are readying Windows Phone 7
this fall, even
as Nokia prepares new devices of its own
Elop is the latest in a string of Microsoft executives departing
. In May, Bill Veghte-once the senior vice president of the global
Windows business-joined Hewlett-Packard as executive vice president of its
Software and Solutions Business. A little while after that, Alexander
Gounares-corporate vice president and CTO of Microsoft's online services
division-departed to become AOL's CTO.
Still later in May, Microsoft's Entertainment and Devices (E&D) Division,
responsible for consumer products such as the Xbox and Zune media player,
underwent a shakeup that saw the departures of Robbie Bach, the unit's
president, and J Allard, its senior vice president of design
and development. "I am making several organization changes
to ensure we have the right leaders in the right positions as we set ourselves
up for the next big wave of products and services," Ballmer purportedly wrote
in an internal memo that leaked online.
Whether their departures stem from a desire to climb the
corporate ladder somewhere else, or a broader shakeup forcing them from office
against their will, it's hard to imagine that the executive leavings aren't
having a seismic internal effect on Microsoft. With Elop's departure, Ballmer
now has more direct oversight of both the Business and E&D divisions, at
least until new high-level executives are slotted in.
Under Elop, the Business division pulled in $5.3 billion
during the most recent quarter, suggesting that both enterprises and SMBs
(small and midsize businesses) are starting to spend on software after several
quarters of slashed IT budgets. It also launched Office 2010, its
next-generation productivity suite.
In a Sept. 10 statement, Nokia suggested that Elop's
managerial skills would be key to reviving Nokia's fortunes in the smartphone
space, where it has lost ground to the likes of the Apple iPhone and Google
"The time is right to accelerate the company's renewal; to
bring in new executive leadership with different skills and strengths in order
to drive the company's success," Jorma Ollila, chairperson of the Nokia Board
of Directors, wrote in that statement. "The Nokia Board believes that Stephen
has the right industry experience and leadership skills to realize the full
potential of Nokia."
If a new research note from IDC proves prescient, however,
Elop could have a hard road ahead. The research firm is predicting market-share
increases for both Windows Phone and Google Android through 2014, while that of
Nokia's Symbian platform, Apple iPhone, and BlackBerry OS all experience
varying degrees of dip. Overall, however, the smartphone market will likely
continue to grow by proverbial leaps and bounds.
"The smartphone is the catalyst behind the rebound in the
worldwide mobile phone market this year," Kevin Restivo, an IDC analyst, wrote
in a Sept. 7 statement
. "Additional product introductions and an expected
flurry of smartphone buying activity in the second half of the year will push the
market well above previous expectations."
In the non-smartphone realm, Microsoft
also confirmed this week that it will release a public beta of its Small
Business Server "7" by the end of the month
. The platform is meant to
complement Microsoft's two upcoming servers, code-named Vail and Aurora, which
were released in preview-build form in August.
"We can confirm that SBS 7 will reach public beta by the end
of September," a Microsoft spokesperson told eWEEK Sept. 7.
Small Business Server "7" will likely receive a more formal
name ahead of its release. Microsoft claims the platform will support up to 75
Client Access Licenses, perform automatic server backups, and allow IT
administrators to organize and access files from off-premises. More information
about the platform can
be found here
Although Microsoft's current business strategy is to focus
more and more on the cloud-something Elop was known to discuss at great length,
at least before his departure for Nokia-a sizable number of corporations rely
on on-premises IT infrastructure. Microsoft has been working to strengthen its
cloud offerings in recent months, even
as recent Business Productivity Online Standard Suite (BPOS) outages suggest
some kinks still need to occasionally be worked out