Device operating systems

Elop's Out as Microsoft Refocuses Its Strategy

Stephen Elop is out at Microsoft, the company announced Wednesday, as part of several changes to its senior leadership team and operational groups to "drive engineering alignment against the company's core ambitions."

Microsoft Corp. (Nasdaq: MSFT) said in a statement that the changes are designed to help it "reinvent productivity and business processes, build the intelligent cloud platform and create more personal computing." The changes, which leave Microsoft with 12 senior leaders, include:

  • Elop, Kirill Tatarinov and Eric Rudder will all leave Microsoft after a designated transition period. Unrelated to the restructuring, Chief Insights Officer Mark Penn is also leaving the company in September.
  • Executive Vice President Terry Myerson will lead a newly formed teamed, Windows and Devices Group (WDG), which will be a combination of the Operating Systems Group and the Microsoft Devices Group (MGD) that Elop led, focused on building Windows-powered personal computing experiences.
  • Executive Vice President Scott Guthrie will continue to lead the Cloud and Enterprise team, which will now also encompass the Dynamics development team.
  • Executive Vice President Qi Lu will continue to lead the Applications and Services Group (ASG) focused on productivity services.

Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella wrote in an email to employees: "When Stephen Elop returned to Microsoft, he oriented MDG to create the best Microsoft experience through its devices, inclusive of hardware, software and services. He has been a strong advocate of the need to drive focus and accountability around the delivery of these experiences and has helped drive tighter alignment toward the ambition of more personal computing. With the structural change described above, Stephen and I have agreed that now is the right time for him to retire from Microsoft. I regret the loss of leadership that this represents, and look forward to seeing where his next destination will be."

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Elop earned the dubious distinction of entering Light Reading's 2014 Hall of Fame as the token "villain" for what many believed to be his "Trojan horse" strategy at Microsoft. He joined Nokia as the CEO in 2010 after two years at Microsoft but when Nokia struggled, under his leadership, to regain its footing in the mobile market, Elop struck up a partnership with his former employer, Microsoft, in 2011. (See Light Reading Hall of Fame 2014.)

And you know how that story ends -- Microsoft bought Nokia's device business in 2013, and Elop secured himself the role of executive vice president of Microsoft's Devices Group, along with a fat paycheck. (See Microsoft Officially Closes Nokia Buy and Microsoft's Elop Denies He Was a Trojan Horse .)

Now, the question many are asking is whether Elop wasn't actually the Trojan horse he was believed to be. Or, perhaps, whether his work is just simply done. (See The Nokia/Microsoft Conspiracy Theory.)

Microsoft's work, on the other hand, is far from done. Under Nadella, the company is working to make Windows 10 the de facto operating system for PCs and mobile devices alike, but it has been struggling in a mobile market dominated by Android and iOS. This executive shake-up announcement comes about a month before Microsoft is due to release Windows 10 to the general public. (See Expect Further Cuts at Microsoft Devices – Analyst and Microsoft to Axe 12,500 Ex-Nokia Employees.)

— Sarah Thomas, Circle me on Google+ Follow me on TwitterVisit my LinkedIn profile, Editorial Operations Director, Light Reading

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