FAQ: The Microsoft Leadership Change

Microsoft's new CEO Satya Nadella has taken charge, but that's not the only thing new with the company's power structure.Here are a few questions and answers about the leadership change.

Satya   Nadella, Microsoft, CEO
Satya Nadella

Microsoft's new CEO Satya Nadella has taken charge, but that's not the only thing new with the company's power structure.Here are a few questions and answers about the leadership change.

+ Also on Network World: Satya Nadella to succeed Ballmer as Microsoft CEO | What's Microsoft going to look like after Ballmer?  |  Satya Nadella and Bill Gates's apron strings+

Who is Satya Nadella anyway?

Nadella, 46, has worked at Microsoft for 22 years in servers, business applications, online advertising, search and finally with enterprise and cloud. He hails from Hyderabad, India, the son of a government bureaucrat, and where he went to public schools and earned an undergraduate engineering degree. He also has a master's degree in computer science and an MBA. He met his wife in high school, and they have three kids. He likes cricket and poetry.

Is he a good choice?

Yes, or at least a safe one. He's certainly qualified given that he ran the company's server and tools division, which was a $19 billion business at the time. As a long-time insider, he both knows the company and is known by the executive team and the board of directors, so it makes sense not to expect big surprises.

Then why change CEOs?

While his predecessor Steve Ballmer was a lightning rod for a lot of criticisms, the main problem the board of directors articulated was that he was too slow to jump on new product trends, notably smartphones and mobility. The hope is Nadella will recognize new opportunities and deliver on them faster.

What happens to Ballmer?

He's out as CEO effective immediately, but retains his seat on the board. He's offered to help Nadella any way he can.

Can Nadella live up to the job?

Microsoft seems to be doing what it can to provide the resources to succeed, including company founder Bill Gates, who will spend a third of his time meeting with Microsoft product teams with an eye toward advising Nadella on what's hot.

Does Nadella have enough personal clout to be effective?

Just having the job gives him an enormous amount of clout, but he's not exactly a household name. Having Gates as a top adviser will give his decisions more weight, if that is needed.

Didn't Gates retire?

He stepped down as CEO, but remained as chairman of the board of directors. Along with Nadella's promotion, though, Gates is stepping down as chairman, but keeping a seat on the board. John Thompson, the board member who headed up the CEO-search committee that chose Nadella, is the new chairman.

What are Nadella's top priorities?

Initially, he wants to meet personally with select customers, partners and investors in an effort to learn in more detail what they want from Microsoft. Then he wants to push what he is referring to as a mobile-first/cloud-first strategy.

What's that?

Microsoft is promoting a mobile strategy that incorporates devices such as phones and tablets supported on the backend with services such as applications and entertainment that are provided through Microsoft's cloud.

Tim Greene covers Microsoft and unified communications for Network World and writes the Mostly Microsoft blog. Reach him at tgreene@nww.com and follow him on Twitter@Tim_Greene.

Read more about software in Network World's Software section.

This story, "FAQ: The Microsoft Leadership Change" was originally published by NetworkWorld.

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