Following the debacle with Microsoft’s newly released Xbox One and its included peripheral, Kinect; Microsoft has made a major u-turn. Realising it might be on the verge of losing the battle, Redmond has decided to regroup at its Central Command and push forward with a new tactic.
Today marks the end of an era, it’s going to be sad and it’s going to be poignant. Make sure you have some friends nearby, you’ll want to support each other.
You’ve always got the dread of a Secret Santa, the: what shall I buy? Do they even like chocolate? How much do I spend? All these questions buzzing, it’s easy to forget that Christmas is quite a stressful time, especially for those buying the gifts. More often than not, you won’t get paired with your ideal match, making present buying an even more crushing task. Likely, the person who purchases for you will be a descendent on Ebenezer Scrooge; hence you’ll probably end up with a lump of coal. Depressing.
Steve Ballmer has nearly gone – already forced out by competitors and harsh expectations of Microsoft, his time has come. Microsoft is now in the transition of finding a new CEO, while some have speculated that Stephen Elop may take the reigns – others hope that Bill Gates may return to chair Microsoft back to former glory. Bill Gates is far from ‘poor’ – his charity work is slowly fiddling his money away, but for a good cause. But now it seems shareholders are targeting Gates himself, even though he is one of the most influential figures in the firm for the next head to roll.
Three investors have expressed their wishes for ex-CEO and Chairman, Bill Gates, to be removed from the firm entirely. Gates currently holds 4.5% shares in Microsoft, $277 billion, and is their largest shareholder.
The investors, who wish to remain anonymous, have said Gates influence is counter productive when adopting new strategies and hiring a CEO – in others words, he is too big for his boots. Investors are worried that Gates’ position on the committee appointing the new CEO, will cause unnecessary concern for Microsoft.
Gates only has a 4.5% share in Microsoft, but wields more power than anyone else on the board. Gates now sells 80 million of his shares every year, in effort to spread and ween off his Microsoft wealth.
Kim Caughey Forrest, senior analyst at Fort Pitt Capital Group said:
“I’ve thought that the company has been missing a technology visionary,” she said. “Bill (Gates) would fit the bill.”
Microsoft is still one of the biggest technology companies in the industry, but their core services have faltered under the pressure from tablets and smartphones. Apple, Samsung and Google have heavily invested into the future of touch – Microsoft has followed suit with Windows 8, but it was too late.Gates has said he has no plans to return to Microsoft and is focused on philanthropic work.
Microsoft shares have essentially stayed static for the past decade, since Bill Gates’ departure. Microsoft has failed to impress and investors want answers. If Gates were to leave, it would cause chaos for Microsoft – even further disarray. Microsoft could do with a visionary like Gates, investors need to stop fear mongering and concentrate on the future.
Under Gates, Microsoft excelled – the production of Windows XP, XBOX and its foray of online services were all overseen by the co-founder. Microsoft need a steady hand, it needs to be focused, Microsoft needs to develop.
Would you see Gates go?
Well, it wasn’t the complete console we were expecting. But do not worry. Valve, the game service operator and development studio, announced SteamOS on Monday – this finally gave us confirmation of a PC gaming hardware, we’ve known as “SteamBox”.
Valve unveiled the launch of their Linux OS on Monday via the Steam website. A page had been set up with a countdown timer, indicating an imminent release. Strapped with the title:
“The Steam Universe is Expanding in 2014”
We all knew Valve had something big to share. We have head whispers, here and there about a rumoured Valve hardware; many are surprised that we’ve yet to come across any leaks regarding a possible console. Valve launched its ‘Big Picture’ software back in 2011 – paving the way for a possible console launch. Effectively an enlarged copy of the desktop client, users could experience the power of Steam games directly on their TV; along with the world’s first, first person web browser – Valve obviously had long term plans.
Gabe Newell has recently bashed Microsoft after the launch of Windows 8 and its Windows Store, saying it would have restricted freedom of developers – hence the timely move towards Linux, isn’t so strange after all.
SteamOS is a step further than making the Steam desktop client available on Linux, it is Valve’s chance at modelling a complete user experience and defining their brand from the rest of the market. It will allow them to “connect the dots for customers who want Steam in the living-room” – a logical progression some might say. A system ‘built around Steam’ that will be tailored for PCs in the living room. SteamOS will be easier for consumers, content creators and bog standard gamers.
The new OS will be able to stream games, Mac or PC, from your current Steam account and will also debut the Steam Family Sharing plans. Valve has also worked closely with media services to be able to bring media service content directly to your big screen. Valve has said it has: “achieved significant performance increases in graphics processing, and we’re now targeting audio performance and reductions in input latency at the operating system level,” – in short your Steam is experience is just going to keep getting better.
We are still not clear on how you’ll control SteamOS – it is a PC – but will you be able to buy a dedicated controller or use a keyboard and mouse. It seems like it maybe the former as Valve has designed various unique inputs to enable an analogue controller to intuitively input data.
But we didn’t get any hardware…
Valve didn’t give us the SteamBox, their announcement on their website has led us to believe that Valve might have more up its sleeve. The teaser website clearly shows three circular icons – the first of which has been filled on with the launch of SteamOS. With a countdown timer indicating less than 6 hours until something else…
Valve has said it will make three new announcements this week regarding their future for gaming. This relates directly to the three circles and the new message posted on the Valve website. So don’t feel like you’ve been let down, there is more to come. Valve will be making several announcements – hopefully it will involve hardware, but what else awaits?
We knew it would be coming at some point, Microsoft haven’t performed too well. Now with consumers, share holders and analysts looking scarce about Microsoft, somebody had to fall. Steve Ballmer has held the position of CEO at Redmond from 2000, but now he is to step down as top boss of Microsoft within 12 months. Ballmer has said he’ll leave the American software giant after several attacks by investors, who have claimed that the company is ‘undervalued’.
Ballmer’s decision comes at a time when Microsoft is said to be stagnating in innovation and ideas; their attempts at entering mobile markets, more of a fun experiment. Ballmer suggested in go memo on Friday that the timing of his departure wasn’t his choice. During his memo and later interviews he has demonstrated a sense of reluctance to leave Microsoft, but he now believes the time has come:
“This is an emotional and difficult thing for me to do,”.
When asked if he had pre-planned his departure and felt the time was right, he also said:
“I would say for me, yeah, I’ve thought about it for a long time, but the timing became more clear to me over the course of the last few months.”
Increasingly, investors and stockholders have said that Microsoft is undervalued. ValueAct Capital Management were one of the biggest to attack Ballmer directly – stating he was part of the problem. Rebel investor, David Einhorn – who also gave Apple a hard time – said that he should have stepped down. With Ballmer being “the biggest overhang on Microsoft’s stock”.
With Ballmer taking the helm in 2000, Microsoft’s shares fell below their $52 high in the 90s and lay stagnant at $38 for some time. Now sat at $33, Redmond’s share price rose slightly at the announcement of Ballmer’s departure but have since flopped again. Ballmer hasn’t always been admired across the industry and throughout his reign has been painted as a ‘babbling buffoon’, some clearly disagree. But nevertheless his journey has been interesting. Pressure has built with the launch and subsequent failure of Windows 8 and the slow uptake of Windows Phone. Microsoft hasn’t adapted to market change, and instead of innovating has sat on the income of Windows license sales and renewals for the past 13 years. It hasn’t found a big money grabber in the 21st century and the firm has taken a hit from the likes of Apple and Google who have moved into their patch, stealing some traditional PC users.
Microsoft is in the middle of a total reshuffle of staff, in order to aid product development and innovation. Adopting a more Apple like approach and structuring to produce a killer product. Instead of product design and software teams working independently on products, Microsoft will become ‘one’. With each department working together on each product, hopefully for better results.
But with Ballmer moving out, where will Microsoft head now? It looks like Stephen Elop, ex-Microsoft Office division, who went to head up Nokia, may be in for a run for CEO. It will be key for Microsoft to take somebody from the inside, or with prior inside knowledge to continue Microsofts current style and reworking of the company at this shifty time. That said, Satya Nadella may also make a good candidate for Redmond CEO. Her current position at cloud based companies may give Microsoft the edge in the online space. But while the bookies are taking their biggest bets, we can’t rule out Qi Lu, ex-Yahoo employee and now Bing worker. Microsoft is looking strongly at hiring from inside, but in a personal opinion, this may prove fatal.
Ballmer and Co oversaw a series of deafening blows to Microsoft throughout his reign and bringing some of those higher up through the system may cause a reoccurrence. The scramble to launch Windows 8 and the Surface tablet showed how Microsoft hadn’t kept up to speed with the tablet revolution; but even earlier than this, the signs weren’t good. Apple launched the iPod in 2001, it changed the music industry and left Microsoft behind. Ballmer ushered in the Zune in 2006 and peaked at the wrong time. Microsoft hadn’t launched in time or with the right features. Another blunder by Ballmer led to the open market for the iPad, and XBOX tablet named ‘Courier’ was axed at his command just as the successful Apple pad launched. Microsoft missed a trick.
With all the names high in the air in regards to who will steer Microsoft towards better days, Ladbrokes betting has still pushed a few unlikely names out into the hat. With Sheryl Sandberg, Facebook Chief Operating Officer (33/1), Twitter founder Jack Dorsey (40/1) and yes, even Apple’s Tim Cook (100/1). It is also unlikely that we’ll see Bill Gates, Founder of Microsoft, return to the helm. Leaving in 2000, he stepped down and took Chair of the Board in Redmond. His work with his Wife, Melinda Gates, in eradicating Polio and fighting humanitarian crisis around the world has led him to leave Microsoft behind. Rejoining Microsoft would draw him away from charity and would be more of a loss than a gain for humanity.
Now Microsoft has to work in a more dynamic and fluid market than ever before. They don’t just have to fight Apple and Google but even retailers such as Amazon. Amazon launched a foray of cloud services to compete with Google and Apple in March; this will have made it much harder for Microsoft to step up the game. With many hoping that Gates would return to Microsoft, the current outlook doesn’t look promising. He has already said that he won’t be returning to Microsoft.
As Gates gets ruled out of the line up, we can only look for new fresh blood to take CEO at Microsoft. Microsoft need fresh ideas and a fresh direction. They can’t rely on Windows licenses forever and any new CEO will need to consider the junctions and crossroads that it will face in a few months. It is unlikely that Microsoft will be able to take on the iPad with Windows 8, even with 8.1 around the corner. Microsoft will need to look for something ‘new’ and different, instead of following the rest of the market. The PC isn’t dead, but manufacturers have shown signs of slowing down in sales and interest in the old aged platform and Microsoft need to move on. The XBOX One will offer a chance for Microsoft to expand its horizon, but only if they execute it properly.
Microsoft will need to change soon, it won’t die away instantly but it could happen over time. They may soon hold a smaller role in the technology market as their Windows OS is chipped away by the touch revolution, a role that won’t be to the liking of current Microsoft fans. Without anybody knowing who Microsoft will pick, we can only hope for fresh ideas and fresh thinking at Microsoft. Microsoft needs a fresh thinker, Microsoft needs a fresh leader. And Microsoft need to move on from the past and develop something new and move on from the mistakes of the past.