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[February 03, 2014]
Microsoft on right track [Boston Herald :: ]
(Boston Herald (MA) Via Acquire Media NewsEdge) Feb. 03--All this speculation about Bill Gates stepping down as chairman of the board of Microsoft shows how fundamentally misunderstood the world's largest software giant continues to be.
Investors and technologically illiterate business analysts alike are calling for Gates -- who co-founded the Redmond, Wash.-based multinational corporate titan in 1975 -- to vacate his seat in the wake of news that the board is about to name the company's enterprise and cloud chief, Satya Nadella, as CEO.
Critics fail to understand two key points: 1) Microsoft is moving in the right direction; and 2) Bill Gates isn't overly involved in the company anyway.
The biggest Microsoft myth is that Windows Phone is failing. In fact, it's finally starting to catch on, and it's sold about the same number of mobile phones as Apple had at this point, three years into the business cycle. Initially, there were missteps. Microsoft failed to understand the critical role that wireless carriers play in making smartphones popular. Thanks to Microsoft's acquisition of well-marketed Nokia, that's changing, and Windows Phone actually has more market share than Apple in some countries.
The second-biggest Microsoft myth is that Bing is a failure. Microsoft's search engine hasn't been able to catch up to Google, but that was never the long-term goal. Instead, Bing is part of a larger plan to amass enough information about the world around us to supply a contextually aware personal assistant that will rival Siri. That project, named Cortana, will move with users from device to device, uniting the Xbox, Surface and Windows Phone ecosystem.
Another little-known success is Microsoft's cloud platform, Azure, which is the most powerful and robust cloud service out there and is growing by leaps and bounds. Microsoft has been steadily shifting from a company that many wrote off as a two-trick pony (Windows and Office) to one that is finally starting to capture the hearts and minds of consumers. The Microsoft Store, newly launched Xbox One and even Surface -- which has seen resurgence in its second iteration -- are all reasons for that shift.
So while there's little doubt that the world would be a better place if Gates focused entirely on his philanthropic Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation (even though it's currently his full-time job, while his board membership is part-time at best), there's no reason that he needs to step aside now to make way for a new vision. That vision is already being executed, put into place by his protege, outgoing CEO Steve Ballmer. Gates deserves to leave on his own terms, in his own time.
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