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

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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Alec Meer

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Co-founder of RPS. Dungeon Keeper & X-COM 4 Life.

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