Microsoft Has A New Boss, Tragically Not Called Mike O’Soft

By Alec Meer on February 4th, 2014 at 3:00 pm.

First there was the nerdly Gates, then there was the terrifying Ballmer, and now there is Satya Nadella. What will be the brand new CEO of Microsoft’s ‘thing?’ Perhaps he’ll present keynotes dressed in a lion-themed onesie. Perhaps he’ll have the Windows Vista logo branded onto his chin in order that the company never forgets its past mistakes. Perhaps he’ll cry softly throughout board meetings. Or perhaps he’ll be quietly capable and manage to set the great, barnacle-clad ship Microsoft back on course after its triple-whammy of big commercial wobbles, Windows 8, Windows Phone and the Surface RT tablet*. Perhaps he’ll suddenly make the company interested in PC games again. Or perhaps he’ll oversee some new version of Windows so misjudged that Steam OS finds it has an open goal.

Who knows? But change for a company that, outside of its consoles, has been facing an uphill battle for home computing relevancy of late, is in principle a good thing. And hey, who’da thunk it: he only scores two out of three in Middle-Aged White Guy CEO bingo. Progress of a sort!

Satya Nadella probably isn’t a name that has oft reached relative laymans’ ears, but he’s been at MS since 1992 – i.e. since the halcyon days of Windows 3.1 – so this isn’t perhaps a case of the firm reaching outside its comfort zone, as some onlookers have felt it needs to if it’s to go toe-to-toe with the Apple threat. However, he will be aided by one William Henry Gates III.

A sideways step for Microsoft’s founder and original CEO sees him moved from ‘chairman’ to ‘founder and technology advisor’, which reportedly means he’ll be much more involved in product development once again, following half a decade in which he was essentially hands-off. Whether the old man has too much blood left in him when it comes to devising gotta-have tech remains to be seen, of course, but broadly he’s perceived as helming MS during its glory days (as opposed to Sweaty Steve Ballmer during its slow decline on the computing front), so there’s plenty of industry excitement about this.

Here’s old Billy Boy talking about MS’s new CEO, his own new role and what he hopes it means for the company:

Aw, look how cute he is when he clasps his hands together and looks hopefully at the camera at the end.

Said Nadella, who’s spent recent years focusing on servers, clouds and that sort of thing, “Microsoft is one of those rare companies to have truly revolutionized the world through technology, and I couldn’t be more honoured to have been chosen to lead the company. The opportunity ahead for Microsoft is vast, but to seize it, we must focus clearly, move faster and continue to transform. A big part of my job is to accelerate our ability to bring innovative products to our customers more quickly.”

I.e. be more Apple, presumably. Well, we’ll see. I do suspect an increased focus on tablets and phones more than I do on PCs, but a) perhaps that leaves more room for real change in PC-land b) at least some degree of phone/tablet/PC convergence seems inevitable.

Here’s Nadella in action, as it were, in a not at all awkward** walk’n’talk interview.

I particularly like the way they end up in a room which for some reason has a scooter and walls made of leaves in it. “Hey look kids, Microsoft is a fun company after all!”

Anyway, Mr Nadella also seems very nice. Although he does use the phrase ‘ruthlessly remove’ at one point.

Interesting times. I am really going to miss this, however:

At least there’s the prospect of more of this:

My word. Just look at his hipster glasses.

* I should note here that I’m extremely fond of my Surface Pro 2, which runs full-fat Windows rather than the hamstrung RT version.
** Quite awkward.

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97 Comments »

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  1. nopol10 says:

    Wait, why was there no regeneration scene? Is there another hidden CEO before Satya Nadella? Why are they letting the first CEO steal the new CEO’s thunder by essentially turning his first day into a multi-CEO story?

    • DrStrangeLug says:

      It’s a shame you missed it – a great flashing of lights, old VP’s telling him the time has come, and then he sits up and speaks the soon to be famous line.

      “Change my dears, and about five years too late.”

  2. harcalion says:

    I wouldn’t say that Windows Phone is a failure. It is routinely surpassing iOS in many European countries and will start to chip away the low-end Android shortly. The Kin was a total and absolute failure, I grant you that, but Kin and WP are two very different beasts.

    • Loopy says:

      I agree. I just bought a Nokia Lumia 720 for my fiancée and I have to say it’s really rather a nice phone! The display is very easy on the yes and the battery life is amazing when compared to any Android phone I’ve experienced, In fact I’m tempted to get one for myself, especially as I’m not at all keen on getting anything produced by Apple. :)

    • Sucram says:

      I bought a Windows Phone, but ended up returning it. I like the design an the Lumia phones are very well made, but ultimately there were just a few too many functional limitations for me for it to be a suitable replacement to android phones.

      • soldant says:

        Exactly what I did too. The lack of a useful notification centre, the lack of many essential apps, and a few other little issues renders WP8 totally unusable for me. I rely on a load of medical apps which aren’t on WP8 and show no signs of being ported, so I literally can’t use the platform without reducing my ability to do my job.

        And yes, there are web interfaces galore these days and so many apps just act as a front-end for those sites, but I don’t always have internet access in the field and those apps download their reference libraries to the phone.

    • Bremze says:

      Which countries might those be besides Poland? Nokia took up most of the market by far here in Latvia with the occasional as recently as three years ago but pretty much everyone with the funds to do so has switched to Samsung, Apple or HTC now. I’ve actually seen more tail-end Symbian Nokias than WP7/8 phones here.

      • harcalion says:

        I was referring to Spain, it happened a couple of months ago. This is a nearly 50 million market we are talking. I’m sure my 9.65 Microsoft shares are talking also

        • Bremze says:

          Yeah, you’re right although I wouldn’t call that a victory for Microsoft since Android has almost 90% over there.

          I don’t doubt that WP8 is an alright phone OS lack off software availability aside. It’s just that coming late to the market you have to do much better than just alright to keep up with the established market leaders.

      • mattevansc3 says:

        Emerging markets where the big growth is coming from such as India and Latin America. The more established markets are showing little movement other than the cannibalising of the BlackBerry market share.

        • Bremze says:

          And how much of that marketshare is made up of <160$ phones on razor thin margins?

    • defunkt says:

      Love my Lumia, it’s a great fit for Microsoft’s exceptional cloud offerings (Outlook.com, Office 365)

    • Chorltonwheelie says:

      I love my Lumia 1020 to bits.
      It’s the best gadget I’ve ever had (and I’ve had a few I can tell you).

      Please RPS don’t become like the Guardians Charles Arthur. We need some solid, non “post-pc-world-unless-it’s-an-Apple” journalism. Honestly, pretty please?

  3. Premium User Badge

    Gap Gen says:

    Microsoft should just give up and make the next Windows a Unix variant like everyone else. JOIN US.

    • beridel says:

      Resistance is futile. You will be assimilated.

      • Premium User Badge

        Gap Gen says:

        Huh.
        “join: missing operand after ‘us’
        Try ‘join –help’ for more information.”

        Well… never mind then.

        • staberas says:

          sudo make me a sandwich

          Well i stll wait for the ReactOS project to reach its fruition ….

          • LionsPhil says:

            The last amusing news about ReactOS I saw was that they are doing a Kickstarter to create a cloud version you can VNC into.

            Isn’t that just what you’ve always wanted on your phone or tablet (and, yes, they do target those in the KS)? An imperfect knock-off of Windows you can interact with using your finger and network lag?

          • Darth Gangrel says:

            I still wait for CheerIOS, but I doubt it’s coming anytime soon.

    • LionsPhil says:

      Dear god no. UNIX should have been buried ten years ago. To this day “but, but, but, POSIX standard!” is an anchor around Linux’s neck.

      • slain says:

        Which part of POSIX do you think drags Linux down the most?

        To be fair, creative workarounds and problem-oriented frameworks are abundant.

    • RogueJello says:

      It’s VMS based, and supports POSIX, surely that’s close enough?

      • Premium User Badge

        Gap Gen says:

        Not until it has a decent terminal. Although granted, OSX also lacks a decent official package manager. apt-get stands alone. With yum, and zypper, and ah whatever.

        • SominiTheCommenter says:

          yum 4 lyfe.
          apt-get doesn’t even support wildcards!

        • Premium User Badge

          FriendlyFire says:

          Decent terminal? Frankly I find PowerShell to be good enough. Unlike Linux, I don’t feel compelled to constantly run hiding to the terminal whenever something goes wrong.

          • SominiTheCommenter says:

            I just started PowerShell for the first time, maximized the window and it doesn’t really maximizes, it’s the same fucking thing as cmd, 80 chars wide OR ELSE. I know there’s an option buried in some menu that need some incantation to evoke, bu it’s a solved problem in any decent terminal for longer than I am alive.
            Gonna chalk it up to “No Decent Terminal”

          • Premium User Badge

            Malcolm says:

            Try the Powershell ISE – it’s an IDE really, but you can maximise the console bit if you like and it has none of the cmd.exe-style restrictions.

          • Low Life says:

            PowerShell ISE looks pretty cool. Though personally I just use the bash that comes bundled with Git.

    • HidingCat says:

      There’s one in every Microsoft post…

  4. Viscera says:

    The first thing I thought, while looking through this article: “God, did Bill Gates grow old”.

    But compared to young Bill Gates, it’s good that he doesn’t look like a caricature of a stereotypical nerd anymore.

  5. Ny24 says:

    Did he just say that he wants to “ruthlessly remove […] people that are hindering innovation”? Can you say that on TV? I think it’s pretty awesome. Not for the people of course.

    • DatonKallandor says:

      He said it on the Internet. That’s a little more relaxed when it comes to ruthlessly removing people.

    • MintyBadger says:

      I don’t think he’s being that transparently evil; he’s saying he’s going to remove the obstacles that stop people in the company innovating, not necessarily remove the people themselves. But yeah, I’m sure some of those “obstacles” are people.

      • Premium User Badge

        Don Reba says:

        Thing is, he did not say he would remove obstacles that stop the company from innovating, on the contrary, here is the exact quote:

        What I want to focus on is ruthlessly remove any obstacles that allow us to innovate, every individual in the organization to innovate.

        He is going to kill everyone.

  6. wu wei says:

    The best part is how Microsoft have used a Google service to make this announcement.

    • FrogPeppins says:

      No need to wonder why the old guy is getting replaced.

    • Damien Stark says:

      Good for a small laugh I suppose, but if they had tried to host it on Silverlight Azure Portal That Nobody Has Heard Of instead, the story would be swamped with complaints and jokes about that.

      Microsoft is at its worst when it’s trying to pretend their proprietary ecosystem is the only platform in the world and forcing everyone into using only their products. Breaking that trend is a sign of maturity and positive change, IMHO

      • soldant says:

        And to their credit, they’ve been doing a decent job of that lately. The SkyDrive app on iOS is remarkably good and well-supported, as is OneNote.

        Google meanwhile point-blank refuse to port anything to Windows Phone and still can’t make a decent version of Chrome that runs under Metro mode. They also removed ActiveSync support which cripples Gmail and associated services on WP devices (or the Win8 Metro calendar app and forces IMAP for Gmail). And then there was Google’s “accidental” blocking of WP devices from accessing YouTube… and then blocking MS’ attempt at a YouTube app since Google won’t do their own (though it did block ads… which Google didn’t like).

        • Premium User Badge

          FriendlyFire says:

          I agree with everything except the YouTube bit: Microsoft broke the T&C by stripping the ads, so Google was well within their rights to in term terminate the service.

  7. Premium User Badge

    amateurviking says:

    I too, am enjoying the Surface Pro 2, it is not poo.

    doobaddy doo.

  8. Low Life says:

    He’s never going to top Bill Gates in Doom.

  9. WrenBoy says:

    Nadella, who’s spent recent years focusing on servers, clouds and that sort of thing

    Hmmm. Clouds. I dont like the sound of that.

    • TheVGamer says:

      Don’t be a cranky, old guy, guy. The magnanimous “cloud” has given us Google search, Bing’s porn search algorithms and cloud saves so I’m willing to see what else they can come up with.

      • LionsPhil says:

        It’s also systematically dismantling the notion of a personal computer, and putting everything back in the hands of Someone Else’s Server.

        So, y’know. There’s that.

        • Geebs says:

          I remember getting irritated at an article in (possibly) Computer Shopper about 20 years ago, about how great it would be if everybody had a thin client and all of their stuff was kept on a server as part of a service deal.

          Which is why I’m glad Microsoft is promoting somebody involved in setting up their cloud platform. I only hope they keep up the sterling work on taking away localised computing for another 20 years :-)

    • mattevansc3 says:

      He’s pretty much responsible for making the Azure platform the powerhouse it is.

      Now if we cut through the marketing speak of the cloud and see that its a loose term for anything server based the “cloud” is improving how we use things. Steam and Origin cloud saves, Plex Media servers, Win8’s use of persistent accounts as opposed to Win7’s static local accounts.

      • WrenBoy says:

        Steam and Origin cloud saves, Plex Media servers, Win8′s use of persistent accounts as opposed to Win7′s static local accounts.

        Those are a series of fairly minor benefits. Im not blind to the utility of some ‘cloud’ based services but I think we lose far more in freedom and privacy than we gain in utility and I think we have already lost a lot of both already. I am never excited and always concerned when ‘cloud’ based features become more and more tightly intergrated with necessary software. Especially operating systems.

      • Premium User Badge

        Don Reba says:

        This is the guy who made Azure the mediocrity that it is. Amazon is beating Microsoft hands down.

  10. waltC says:

    Is there some relevancy for the term “white guy”? Even if you were democratic about such phrases, and used “black guy,” or “yellow guy” or “red guy,” et al, ad infinitum, where pertinent, such phrases would still be racist, and, of course, irrelevant. I guess it is one of those strange vagaries of life, that a web site so philosophically concerned with men speaking up for women’s rights even when women aren’t–should use such racist terms as “white guy.” (Besides, I’m not 100% sure it is even applicable to Nadella.) Perhaps the ill-thought phrase was meant to be comical, however.

    • Premium User Badge

      bills6693 says:

      I do not believe it is at all racist. The word is not used with a racist connotation.

      While it would of course be racist to call a far-east Asian a ‘yellow guy’ as the phrase itself has racist connotations and associations, the term white to refer to those of Caucasian decent does not commonly carry a racist element.

      It is about the perception of the word. White and, arguably, Black are not racist ways to describe people generally, Yellow, Brown and Red usually are, because people perceive Black and White as simply utilitarian ways to denote a person’s race, whereas Yellow, Brown and Red are used in a derogatory way.

      • Premium User Badge

        Wowbagger says:

        I personally take more offence at being called Caucasian, seeing as it’s entirely wrong. I agree with you on the other points however.

      • waltC says:

        Many things that identify a person by his skin color, and little else, are racist. In this context, does it matter at all what color the guy’s skin is (or his age, etc.?) If we want to move to a color blind society then we need to drop such descriptions of people’s skin color. I think there’s probably only a very few non-racist uses for references to skin color: wanted posters, obituaries (which actually often omit such details), or other uses required for a mandated identification (such as a missing person, etc.)

        The phrase honestly doesn’t bother me, personally, except that I find it hypocritical, and fairly funny. The very people who have no problem saying “middle-aged white guy,” would choke on using the phrase “middle-aged black guy” in the same context and manner. It’s really pretty funny…mainly because it is so stupid…;) Why is it considered “cutesy” to say “middle-aged white guy” but “offensive” to substitute another skin color in the same phrase? Lol–that’s about as dumb as it gets.

        • Premium User Badge

          darkChozo says:

          It’s a matter of cultural and historical significance — some of those colors have fallen into common usage, some of those have not and are associated with racial discrimination. That’s how language works, trying to analyze it by category is silly. You may as well ask why people are offended when you call them a “Nazi” and less so when you call them most other political parties.

          Hell, it differs across cultures. “Black” seems to be far more innocuous of a term here in the US as compared to at least some parts of Europe.

    • goodgimp says:

      I bet you’re super fun at parties.

    • Gargenville says:

      Middle-Aged, White and Guy are the boxes available to check in Stereotypical Middle-Aged White Guy CEO Bingo. Satya Nadella checks Middle-Aged and Guy.

    • Koozer says:

      I frowned at the ‘middle-aged’ bit myself. Do you want the CEO of a multibillion dollar company to being their twenties with little experience?

      • LionsPhil says:

        What, you don’t want hip and trendy innovators leading you into a new generation of radical game-changing cloud straegems?

        • SominiTheCommenter says:

          Integrating synergies to leverage the social media necessities of visceral content.

      • Volcanu says:

        My thoughts exactly. Most CEOs will be middle aged because generally speaking (and especially at the largest companies) you want someone with extensive experience in the top job.

    • Premium User Badge

      drewski says:

      Alec didn’t refer to him as a white guy at all.

      Stereotypically most CEO’s in Western run firms are middle aged, white and male. Alec’s reference is noting that Microsoft’s new CEO only fits two of the three available categories. He notes this to be humorous.

    • Crane says:

      I have decided that henceforth the best way to avoid accusations of racism is to refer to people’s skin colour by a hex value. For example, it’s nice to see that Nadella is more #C4AC91, instead of being yet another middle-aged #EBCEAE guy.

      • Koozer says:

        I approve of this system. I am also glad your hex codes are actually accurate!

      • SominiTheCommenter says:

        By that measure, Ballmer is now 0xDEADBEEF

      • DThor says:

        I like your nerdy suggestion, but sadly in the future all skin tone references will be changed to Pantone ™ colours. I like to think they nailed me with Radiant Orchid ™.

    • mattevansc3 says:

      It easy to make it sound racist when taking it out of context. As the article stated he ticks two of the three boxes for the White, Middle Aged, Guy CEO. This is a statement, and quite a true statement, of the current state of affairs in Silicon Valley and most corporations in that CEO’s are predominantly white, middle aged and male with the likes of Satya Nadella and Marissa Mayer aren’t even minorities, they are rarities.

      Of all the final eight candidates in the running for the CEO position Satya was the only non-white person and the only female rumoured (never confirmed) was Julie Larson-Green.

  11. SkittleDiddler says:

    Vista runs great, you know. Maybe he should get a tattoo of Windows ME instead.

  12. Premium User Badge

    Bury The Hammer says:

    To be totally fair to Ballmer, whilst they’ve faultered a bit with Windows releases lately, Microsoft have still done decently in terms of revenue. They’re not shrinking. Course these are internal figures and there’s always a bit of stats adjustment to smooth stuff out, but there’s only so much you can cover up (plus it’s legally dangerous)..

    https://www.microsoft.com/en-us/news/inside_ms.aspx#RevenueHeadcount

    But yeah, anyway, they do a lot more than just Windows, which can get lost in the fog sometimes. I think a lot of people assume that Microsoft = Windows + Office + Tablets, when they do a lot of software development tools, consulting, enterprise management, databases, cloud computing, etc. All the boring stuff a lot of IT companies do that rakes in the dough.

    • Premium User Badge

      soulblur says:

      This is true. A lot of things look like missteps, but the basic thing behind it is that they have massive revenue and profit margin to work with. Even some massive missteps won’t sink them. Profit this quarter was over $6 billion. That’s a lot of money. Even if there was a move away from the sort of things that are high earning for them (office applications to open source, for example), they could decline gracefully and profitably for 20 or 30 years, easily. They could spin off some of the businesses for extra cash. They might find out that one of their gambles starts paying off. I think there’s hope yet for MS.

      • SominiTheCommenter says:

        The thing is, I don’t give a rat’s ass about the financial performance of Microsoft of any other corporate behemoth.
        Windows 8 doesn’t stop being an abomination because *MSFT’s shareholders are getting towels of money instead of napkins.

        * Yes, the stock symbol to bring the point home. The people who use MSFT and AAPL should go DIAF. At least M$ and Crapple are silly jokes.

  13. GallonOfAlan says:

    He is, however, called ‘Nadella’ which is like ‘nad eile’ in Gaelic, which means ‘another nad*’.

    *testicle

  14. BLACKOUT-MK2 says:

    Could be worse. He could be called Mac.

  15. Sucram says:

    Interesting that Stephan Elop is going to head up devices including Windows Phone, Surface and Xbox as late last year the rumors were that Elop thought Microsoft should sell off Xbox.

    • Leb says:

      It really should, what Microsoft does right IMO is really in the enterprise space. Microsoft doesnt understand gamers and that is clear from the Xbox One. PC master race yadayadayada

      • iainl says:

        Microsoft really shouldn’t sell Xbox, though. Because while it’s not exactly a money tree it’s the one place their tiles are reasonably popular, and they’ve designed the Bone far too much around the network – detach it from Azure and it’s a dead console walking.

    • mattevansc3 says:

      The rumours were from a trusted (unknown) source “close” to Elop. Now in the run up to a candidate being picked that rumour could have been started by

      A) A supporter to drum up share holder interest due to expected stock rise of getting rid of a loss making department.

      B) Another candidate/ supporter of another candidate who wants to try and discredit him.

      C) Someone with an axe to grind.

      D) Someone who’s never spoken to Elop before but knows the tea lady for his floor and wants to throw in his/her/it’s two cents.

  16. Ezhar says:

    Microsoft is the kind of “fun” company that has leaves on the walls and bicycles in the hallways, but if you take one of those bicycles off the wall and ride it down that hallway, you get fired for misconduct.

  17. Scurra says:

    If you think that “bringing more innovative products to customers” == “be more Apple”, then it’s true. Apple have, indeed, won the propaganda war…

    • Chorltonwheelie says:

      Yes, quite right.
      Like the Newton?
      Like the Pippin?
      Perhaps, ummm the Lisa?
      What about the TAM?
      The G4 Cube set the world alight didn’t it?
      Just remembered the Macintosh TV, that went well didn’t it?

      Just as well they gave us the Hockey Puck mouse or we’d be beginning to think that St. Jobs Reality Distortion Field has worked on people who really should know better.

      (I’ve not forgotten the IIc either, or the Portable or eWorld (fucking eWorld. Ye Gods!)….you get the picture).

  18. Fry says:

    Clearly a sly attempt on Microsoft’s part to get into the spreadable snack market. I await the debut of the Chocolate & Hazelnut division.

    • Premium User Badge

      Gap Gen says:

      You’ll know when Excel allows you to create chocolate and hazelnut spreadsheets.

    • SominiTheCommenter says:

      Why buy that, when the jam on the Linux side is free and homemade?

      • Geebs says:

        2014 will be the year of jam on the desktop!

      • soldant says:

        Because occasionally Jam 2.3.4.1 comes out, updates itself, and then turns the jam into peanut butter which also breaks the lid so that it can’t be opened? And also breaks the toast so that it turns into rocks? And needs six commands to open the jar?

        • SominiTheCommenter says:

          The jar is standard though, you can just take another from the store.
          And that mainly happens if you really want to know the chemical composition of your jam. For most food-eaters, jam is as easy to use as a spreadable snack, but there’s more jam resources on the internet.

  19. Marblecake says:

    In the interview vid of Satya Nadella, does anyone else hear him say “we have gone from being the productivity company to being the Doom Ore company” at 3:52? I wonder what this Doom Ore might be. Sounds menacing.

    • Premium User Badge

      Don Reba says:

      Basically, anyone who allows the company to innovate will be ruthlessly sent to the Doom ore mines. Doom ore, he says, is a substance that will allow every individual and every organization to get more out of their life. By which, I presume, he means the miners’ lives.

  20. horsemedic says:

    I hope he enables search wrap and default word wrap in Notepad. I’ve been waiting 20 years for such a leader.