Adding Lu only adds to the luster, and underscores Ballmer's sentiment: If you can't buy them, poach them. Enderle added:
Indeed, The New York Times' Saul Hansell echoed Enderle's sentiments, noting that Microsoft is combating Google at its own game:
Mr. Ballmer sees Microsoft's No. 1 enemy as Google. Google's No. 1 product is a search engine. So to beat Google at its own game, he may figure he needs the person who can make the best search engine possible. By that standard, Mr. Lu would be on anyone's short list.
With Lu running Microsoft's Online Services along with Suchter, Microsoft may poach more engineers from Yahoo, which has opened up its search platform. It could also give Microsoft the credibility to lure programmers from Google, Facebook or other Silicon Valley darlings.
Yet these potential advantages don't equate to a recipe for success, Enderle noted:
IDC analyst Karsten Weide added that if you have a 65 percent market share, or Google's approximate share in search traffic, you're likely to keep that position.
"I have no reason to believe [Lu's] a bad choice, but we'll have to wait and see what happens," Weide noted. "There are only so many experienced online managers to go around. It's certainly not the worst choice that they could have made.
Kara Swisher at AllThingsDigital has trenchant fun with Ballmer's letter to Microsoft employees about Lu's hire here.