Facebook to Acquire WhatsApp

This has to be about users and not technology, resources or anything else…

I saw this the other day and it really made my jaw drop. I wasn’t surprised that Facebook made the acquisition. I was surprised at how much Facebook paid for the organization. The total deal is worth $19B – $4B in cash, $12B in stock and $3B in restricted stock for the founders and other employees.  The restricted shares vest over period of four or so years.  The deal also provides WhatsApp founder Jan Koum with a seat on Facebook’s Board of Directors.

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WhatsApp is an instant messaging app that sends messages over a data connection as opposed to GSM or CDMA.  Because the app sends text messages as data over your smartphone’s data connection, they don’t count against your text messaging limit.  The app claims to have over 450M active users, and is signing up users at the rate of one million a month.  That’s a lot of users…

WhatsApp is similar to Apple’s iMessages platform which sends text messages via an iPhone’s data connection and not a cellular connection to avoid being double charged for the message.

Google also made an offer of $10B for the company, but was ultimately turned down.  Google wanted to make certain that it didn’t get surprised with the WhatsApp deal as it did with Instagram when Facebook snatched it out from under them in 2012.  They were so determined to insure that this didn’t happen that they were willing to pay millions for to WhatsApp in what’s being called a “right of notice” offer. I can’t find out if that agreement was actually consummated or not.  However, Google wanted the right to be notified if another company entered into acquisition talks with WhatsApp; and again, they were willing to pay millions for that. In this case, it likely would have been a waste of money for Google.  Facebook’s offer was nearly double what Google had proposed.

From what I’ve been able to see so far, Facebook plans to leave WhatsApp alone. They did the same thing with Instagram when they acquired them in 2012. They purchased the asset, with the intent of doing – something – with it later.  What that is, and how Facebook might actually make money from or with that asset has yet to be determined.

When I heard about this, I thought, “well, WhatsApp is going to be the new Facebook Messenger,”  but that doesn’t seem to be the case. Facebook Messenger, Facebook’s own text messaging app, isn’t going anywhere.  Some analysts think the acquisition supports Facebook’s strategy to be dominant in the mobile world.  They want to be a go-to company for mobile apps and messaging, especially in emerging markets.  Some analysts thing this is a survival tactic.  WhatsApp is strong in Europe and South America, where it enjoys approximately 80% market penetration in countries like Brazil, Germany, Portugal and Spain.  It is, in fact, the largest mobile messaging service in India, Brazil, Mexico, Nigeria and South Africa, according to Engadget.

What do you think? Is this a good buy for Facebook?  Will WhatsApp really continue to function independently as Instagram does, or will Facebook actively try to do something with the app sooner rather than later?  I’d really like to hear what everyone else thinks.  Why don’t you give me your thoughts on the matter in the discussion area, below?

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Microsoft sets Windows 7 End of Sales Date

If you’re a consumer, you have until 2014-10-31 to get a new PC with Windows 7 on it.

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Microsoft’s been busy; and I’m not entirely certain that it’s a good thing.

They have a new CEO and a new technical advisor. They’ve announced a target date/timeframe for the release of Windows 8.1 Update 1. Oh yes… the ‘Softies have been busy; and I’m not entirely convinced that all of the developments have been good, either.

Case in point – Microsoft has set 2014-10-31 as the end of sales date for new consumer-grade Windows 7 PCs. This means that if you want a new PC with Windows 7 on it by default, you need to purchase it before 2014-10-31. This would include PC’s with Windows 7 Home Basic, Home Premium or Ultimate. If you go look for one on 2014-11-01, you may not be able to purchase it. Interestingly enough, they have not set the do-not-sell-after-this-date for business machines.

Microsoft’s been trying to force its partners to stop selling an older OS to retail customers one year after the release of its latest desktop OS since at least 2010, after its release of Windows 7 in 2009. They are desperately trying to prevent the creation of another Windows XP-like scenario where users can continue to buy the OS long after 1-2 generations of successors has hit the market. Windows 8 was shipped in October of 2012, so the world has already gotten a bit of a reprieve.

The problem is that Windows 8…well, it kinda sucks. Windows 8.1 goes a ways to resolve some of the issues that Windows users have with Windows 8’s dueling and competing user interfaces, but it doesn’t go far enough for many. Windows 9 is supposed to put the issue to bed; but that’s after the release of Windows 8.1 Update 1, and the word that I’m hearing from people in the know, is that Microsoft seems hell bent on not doing itself any favors.

Windows 8.1 Update 1, based on the bits that have leaked thus far, seems to be a bit of a bust. Some of the UI updates that come with it are again, a third to a half of what you’d want to see in another “release” of Windows 8.x from Microsoft. The OS has a bad reputation to begin with. You would think with such large obstacles for Windows 8.x to overcome, Microsoft would be a bit more committed to righting them as quickly as possible. Instead, they are waiting until what the world is currently calling Windows 9, but is currently known, at least internally, as Threshold, is released to bring back the full desktop experience. While this includes a REAL Start Menu and more – and that’s all seen as a good thing by many business and CoIT/BYOD users – Microsoft IS going to make everyone wait at least another year for it all.

(Interestingly enough, you can get just about all of Threshold’s native features now with a few, low priced trialware titles from Stardock – Start8 and ModernMix.) Windows 8 isn’t a bad OS, in and of itself…that is, if you can find a way around MetroUI and the Start Screen. If you can, you should find that Windows 8 is more stable and faster than Windows 7; and its TabletPC features are better integrated, should you have a Surface or other Windows-based tablet.

If you’re looking for a copy of Windows 7, you can try Amazon or NewEgg. I hear both of those online vendors have ample supply of Windows 7 consumer editions.

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Macrorit Disk Partition Expert Home Edition

Manage hard drive partitions on your Windows PC’s with this easy to use utility.

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If there’s one thing that I know, and have learned over the past 30 years of working with computers, its that hard disk drive management isn’t always the easiest thing to do. I remember back in the day, if you wanted to do anything else with your hard drive, other than have one main, boot partition, you had to use not only format.com to format your drive, but you had to get very familiar with fdisk.exe. If you couldn’t master the command line syntax for either of them, you were in a pickle. This is why I really like tools like Macrorit Disk Partition Expert Home Edition. It’s a free and easy to use hard drive partitioning utility for Windows that even a novice user can work with.

MDPE-09Macrorit Disk Partition Expert Home Edition is a free hard drive management tool that allows you to extend partitions, settle low disk space problems, and manage disk space easily on MBR and GUID partition table (GPT) drives. The utility is designed for home users and supports 32 and 64 bit versions of Windows including Windows XP, Vista, Windows 7 and Windows 8.x.

The app is full featured. With it you can resize and move existing partitions create new ones, set individual partitions as active or inactive, hide or unhide partitions as well as other common disk activities. You can also defrag, wipe a drive as well as perform a surface test. The app supports up to 2TB hard drives, and supports 1024 sector sizes, as well as MBR and GPT partitions

I’ve always been partial to productivity tools and utilities on my PC. They are in fact, my favorite. The thing that I like the best about Macrorit Disk Partition Expert Home Edition is that its fairly easy to use. However, the concepts used in the app are very advanced. The tool makes it very easy to complete some very complex tasks that take place at the system level of your computer’s operating system. You need to be careful when using the app and understand the risks associated with making changes to your hard drive configuration. If you do want and need to make these kinds of changes, this is a great tool to do them with.

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Android on Windows..?

Wait, what..?! Microsoft is going way past Project Normandy if they’re considering this…

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 The other day I wrote about how Nokia was pulling together the final touches on a low-end Android phone to compete in developing and emerging markets where high-end phones don’t sell well. That grinds against the traditional wheels in the Microsoft machine. Traditionally, thems is feudin’ words…at least in Redmond.

However, I stumbled across a couple other articles yesterday, including one from Mary Jo Foley (totally love her column), that really had me thinking, and I wanted to take a bit of time to try to wrap my head around all of it. Apparently, Microsoft is considering going well beyond an Android phone. They are actively considering – I think debating might be a better word, and strongly debating at that – not only releasing an Android phone, but they are considering the possibility of allowing Android apps to run on all Windows Phones, and on Windows tablets (think Surface RT/2 and Surface Pro/2 Pro) as well on traditional Windows laptops and desktops.

Wait, what?! That last part confused me…

The big problem honestly gets down to 3rd party development resources and the reach of Windows Phone. Windows Phone has a VERY small share of the smartphone market right now. In fact, its single digit small, where Android and iOS share double digit ownership of the number one and two spots, respectively. I’ve heard many 3rd party developers say that they would like to make apps for Windows Phone, but the sales just don’t justify the resource and development costs. As a way to get Windows powered devices (again not only phones and tablets, but computers as well) in the hands of more people, Microsoft is trying to figure out a way (the best way..?) to get Android apps to run on Windows devices. That could be Pokki, or it could be something else.

The first thing that crossed my mind was RIM/Blackberry, who (eventually) tried this strategy when they released their failed and much maligned Playbook tablet. Everyone thought they had figured out a way to make Android apps run natively. Instead, they had to run inside an emulator – a clunky, poor performing, and unfortunately buggy – emulator (and it totally tanked). Now with the release of BB10, Android apps can be installed OTA (over the air), but users have to find the application files (*.APK files) on their own. From what I understand, Microsoft would have to do much the same thing – run Android apps inside an emulator, and again, it may be Pokki – in order to get them to run on a Windows powered device.

I’m on the fence about this. I don’t like the idea of an Android app on a Windows powered device. I especially don’t like the idea of an Android app running on my Windows laptop or desktop. Android is a mobile OS, and as such, the apps aren’t as rich or full featured as those found on a traditional Windows laptop or desktop PC. I don’t think the end users are going to like what they get, or more importantly, what they don’t get, from the experience.

The reason why BB10 users can install Android apps OTA is because at its core, BB10 – or QNX – is just as Linux based as Android is. A GREAT deal of work would have to be done to Windows to be able to have Android apps run natively as they do on BB10. Unfortunately, you don’t see this feature creating a lot of BB10 device sales. In fact, you don’t see a lot of BB10 devices anywhere. I have yet to actually see one in the wild (and I am actively looking). Ultimately, I’m afraid that the same thing will happen with Windows.

If a user wants to run Android apps, a user is going to buy…an Android device. Period. They aren’t going to buy a BB10, or in this case, a Windows powered, device. Redmond isn’t going to create a draw or see a huge uptick in demand for Windows Phone or Surface RT/2 devices if it finds an acceptable way to run Android apps on them. It’s a nice to have. It’s something EXISTING users might find useful; but it’s not going to cause the masses to dump their iOS or native Android devices for a Windows powered device. It just won’t… History is replete with examples, too. If it wasn’t, the IBM PC clone market would have led to an Apple II clone market, a Commodore 64 clone market, etc. Blackberry also wouldn’t find themselves in their current situation, either. Users want to run native apps on native devices. They don’t want to use an emulator or have functionality limited.

All of this also goes against every bit of cultural norm I’ve ever seen come out of Redmond. However, as a devices and services company where the focus is now being placed on the software that powers both those devices and services, it’s clear that Microsoft has to do something. WHAT that is… I’m not certain yet; and I hope that they haven’t made their decision on it yet, either. Doing this would be a mistake; and it would really upset their development partners as well. Why would they want to develop for Windows Phone or in MetroUI/ModernUI if they can develop an Android app and hit both markets? I’m just sayin’…

However, it’s clear Microsoft has to do SOMETHING. They need to turn the tide around; and find a way to get more users on Windows powered devices. They need to find a way to get more mobile users. They need to find a way to stop people from using older, out-moded, outdated Microsoft operating systems and get them to adopt the most current version. They need a strategy that’s going to lead them into the future instead of milking profits from the past.

This is the biggest, root cause issue that Satya Nadella has before him. He’s going to need all the help he can get too, which is why I am glad that he has Gates around as an advisor. This is a sticky situation and they have a lot of work to do. They need to reengineer the company, their products and Microsoft’s identity. The faster they can do this, the better chance they will have at being successful.

In the meantime, the world is watching…. and waiting.

I’d really like to hear what YOU think about this whole Android on a Windows device thing. Is it a good idea? Will it inspire you to purchase a Windows device over an Android device, if they do it and do it right? I’d really appreciate you chiming in, in the comments below and giving me your opinion on the whole thing.

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Hitting the Emerging Market Sweet Spot

Apparently, Microsoft (Nokia, really) WILL be releasing an Android phone.

Microsoft and Android

If there’s one thing that I know well, its mobile devices. I’ve said many times, I cut my journalistic teeth on mobile devices and mobile computing. It’s probably the one thing that keeps me in the game.  There are so many different kinds of mobile gadgets and mobile convenience gadgets out there. It really doesn’t get old.

However, the US tends to be a high-end device market. Most people – even some of the poorer citizens of the US – would be considered filthy rich in many of the developing countries in the world.  As such, low-end smartphones and other low-end mobile electronics, don’t sell here very well.  In the rest of the world, however, that’s where the money is to be made.  Chasing after those emerging markets is where many of the larger smartphone manufacturers would like to put most of their attention.

Apple would like to seriously get involved in the developing/emerging smartphone market.  It’s been difficult for them, however, as their products are mostly high end, and manufacturing costs for older iPhones haven’t really decreased.  The iPhone 5c was rumored to be a lower costing iPhone for developing markets, though that didn’t turn out to be the case. The 5c was meant as a lower costing iPhone for the US. Sales of that device haven’t lived up to its initial expectations. Apple is still looking for a solution for their ecosystem in this lucrative market.

Microsoft also seems to be looking long and hard at the developing/ emerging smartphone market.  They have also hit a small snag.  Apparently, Windows Phone designs don’t lend themselves well to lower end handsets. As such, the current scuttlebutt has Microsoft’s Project Normandy moving forward.

For those that may not know, Project Normandy is an effort at Nokia for an Android based smartphone.  The device is said to be a low-end replacement for the S40 smartphone.  The device will run a version of Android with most of the branded, Google functionality removed. The device is also rumored to be heavily skinned and won’t have the standard and now easily recognizable Android navigation buttons.  The presumption is that the device would run both Microsoft and Nokia branded services like, Bing, the recently rebranded Office Online, and perhaps Nokia Here Maps.

It’s obvious from the description above, that the version of Android is likely forked. It’s also going to be heavily modified. However, this won’t be the first forked, heavily modified version of Android that the world has seen.  Amazon has done exactly that with its Kindle devices for a number of years.  According to ABI, 25% of all Android devices are shipped with a forked version of the popular mobile OS.  Perhaps Microsoft can do its best to make a Windows Phone like, tiled interface for Android and then phase it out. That way, they get a foot hold into the market, get everyone used to the interface and then give themselves the design, engineering and manufacturing time to get it all together.

It’s not known how well the Normandy device will fare, internally, at least. As Microsoft isn’t too interested in putting money in Google’s pocket’s.  As such, Project Normandy may not make it as far as Microsoft Kin phones did a few years ago.  However, Project Normandy represents a sizable investment on Nokia’s part and may help bridge the gap until Microsoft can engineer low-end devices that provide acceptable performance and features on the low-end handsets that are popular in emerging markets.  They need to do something…or else they’re going to miss the entire party…again.

However – and this is the sad part really – Nokia’s, and Microsoft’s past behavior and current company policy don’t have me thinking the device will have much time on the shelf. Nokia spent a lot of time and money developing Meego before it killed the OS shortly after releasing it on the N9.  Microsoft spent millions of dollars developing its Kin phones, which by many accounts were supposed to set its mobile efforts aright.  That effort totally tanked shortly after release. The devices themselves were really no more than toys, or so most of the mobile community thought when reviewing them.

So here we are… full circle again.  The developing/ emerging market sector is difficult to successfully get into.  Android was able to do it well because the OS can run on just about any mobile processor you can throw at it, and as such, manufacturing costs are LOW.  The OS supports skinning and can function well with and without Google services built in.  Heck… Amazon ripped out Google Play and its ENTIRE ecosystem and substituted its own.  And that essentially proves it – you CAN engineer Google out of Android and replace it with your own set of mobile services if you wish.

Given all of this, the ONLY chance that Normandy has of staying on a shelf long enough for Microsoft and Nokia to get a well-functioning, low end Windows Phone out there is none other than Microsoft’s new CEO, Satya Nadella.  If he is truly going to initiate a changing of the guard at Microsoft and have the company really concentrate on devices, service and the software that powers them, he has to push old company politics, motivations, desires, etc. to the side and insure that the device isn’t killed before it had a chance to make a serious difference.  Nadella is going to have to make certain that this stop gap is allowed to fulfill its lifecycle purposes and initiatives and gives both Microsoft and Nokia the opportunity to get its own device out there to take its place, without anyone trying to tank it from the inside.

What do you make of all of this?  Is this a good or a bad idea?  Would you like to see Project Normandy get off the ground?  Should Microsoft try to kill it?  I’d love to hear your thoughts in the discussion area, below.  Tell me what you think!

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Gates Can’t Install Windows 8.1

It’s pretty telling when the creator of Windows can’t get the latest version to install on a Windows compatible PC…

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I’ve seen a couple of posts on this so far today; and I’m sorry to say, I fell for it… The New Yorker is the first article I saw, and not only was it was my WFT of the day, but I fell, hook line and sinker. It took me a bit to figure this out; but it did provide me with a chuckle or two in the interim.

The story goes that Satya Nadella’s first day as CEO looks like it went well.  Bill Gates’ first day, and Nadella’s second, however wasn’t as positive.  According to the article, the Microsoft founder spent the entire day trying to install Windows 8.1 on his Windows compatible PC.  When he couldn’t get passed a specific point, due to a recurring error, he contacted Nadella. The two of them spent the rest of the afternoon banging their heads against a brick wall.

The article described the situation as tense. Both Nadella and Gates tried to weather the moment where a hardware error message prevented Gates’ PC from continuing with the install and would need to restart. Apparently, some of the language coming out of the executive suite hadn’t been heard for a while. So what did Bill do..?

He did what nearly every frustrated consumer has done – he dumped Windows 8.1 and installed Windows 7 instead.

This is where I got hooked, because, how many technically savvy people do YOU know that bumped into something as frustrating as this with Windows. I know I can raise my hand. Its actually the story of my life. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been there.

All I can say is, “welcome to our hell.”

That may come off a little harsher than I really intend it to, but anybody who’s built or rebuilt a Windows box after a malware infection or after some kind of hardware/software snafu knows what I’m talking about. Going back to factory fresh isn’t always the easiest thing in the world with Windows.

In this situation, and in all seriousness, I think the humor here can be put to good use. Putting the public’s dislike for MetroUI/ModernUI aside for a moment, I think one of the first things that Gates should likely advise Nadella on is getting a handle on the hot mess that Windows has turned into.  If the company’s co-founder and former chief software architect really did have problems installing the latest version of the OS on his Windows compatible computer, then there’s certainly something wrong. When this happens to other technically savvy people, its just as frustrating as if it really did happen to Gates.

As a technology writer and product reviewer, I install software on computers all the time, every day, out loud. I regularly have to blow a box and reinstall everything on it. With both Mac OS and Linux, I haven’t had many problems with this.  Both of those are pretty easy to rebuild (and the reinstallation of end user apps is really very easy thanks to system utilities like Apple’s Time Machine on OS X). However, both of those are built on a Unix backbone; and that may have something to do with it.  With Windows, this has historically been much more difficult.

Troubleshooting Windows PC problems has been more difficult as well. Usually, when you bump into driver conflicts, a BSoD or some kind of Registry error or corruption, its better just to pack it in, nuke the drive and reinstall Windows from scratch.  While it doesn’t address the root cause of the problem – which drivers conflicted, where and how you got a malware infection, or what corrupted your Registry – it does get you back to operational mode faster. It’s also a lot less frustrating.

Having a restore DVD or some kind of drive image that has your entire, or most of, your needed setup and configuration and software, is a big help.  This is one of the things I like about Apple’s OS X and Microsoft’s Windows 8.x.  You can take a Windows 8.x box back to factory fresh from within the defective PC…but with Windows, that version of the OS has to already be on the computer; and the recovery partition already been created.  Windows 8 is the first version of Windows to create a recovery partition during installation.

Windows 9 (or whatever the successor to Windows 8 is officially called), currently code named Threshold is due for release in the Spring of 2015. While the recovery partition is an important part of Windows, there’s a lot more that Microsoft could do from an engineering perspective to make the OS easier for both consumer and enterprise users to manage. Getting rid of the Registry would be a start…

What does Microsoft need to do to improve Windows? What do you think Bill Gates can do to advise Satya Nadella? I’d really like to hear what you have to say in the discussion, below.

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The Search is Over

Microsoft has a New CEO – Satya Nadella

I first saw this on Wired, but didn’t put any credence in it until I saw Mary Jo Foley’s article on ZDNet. Based on what we’ve been seeing, despite my earlier column on how association with Ballmer may be a tough hurdle to clear, Microsoft gave Nadella the nod anyway and on Tuesday 2014-02-04 made him the company’s third CEO.

Satya-NadellaThere are three other announcements that go along with this:
1.    Ballmer is out, effective immediately. However, he remains a member of the Board of Directors.
2.    Gates is stepping down as Chairman to take a role on the Board as Founder and Technology Advisor.  You can think of him as Nadella’s consigliere or major domo.  He will “devote more time to the company, supporting Nadella in shaping technology and product direction.”
3.    John Thompson, who was the one-man force behind the CEO search, is taking on the role of Chairman of the Board, effective immediately.

Nadella’s first issue is likely to be some level of “discussion” involving the support of the “One Microsoft” initiative that Ballmer laid out in the July 2013 reorg.  ValueAct’s Mason Morfit is taking a seat on the Board in about a month or so of this writing (March 2014).  The One Microsoft initiative has Microsoft supporting both consumer and enterprise sectors of technology; and Morfit doesn’t support that business strategy. He wants Microsoft to drop consumer hardware efforts like Surface, Windows Phone and Xbox One. He’s also not a Bing fan, either.

Microsoft recently agreed to make Morfit a member of the Board in order to avoid a proxy fight initiated by ValueAct if Microsoft didn’t agree to drop or scale back the consumer side of the business. Taking that on as one of his first issues as CEO would be a challenge for anyone. It certainly looks like Nadella will have his hands full, if that does, in fact, happen.

Nadella has a lot to offer Microsoft as CEO. Most notably, he has 22 years at Microsoft and knows the culture and people. Individuals coming from the outside, taking visible, upper management roles have historically not done well at Microsoft due to the high technical nature of the culture and business.  Nadella won’t have issues there.  His background as an engineer will help him a great deal, as will his tenure at the company.  He doesn’t have anything to prove, and the ‘Softies have already afforded him credibility.

This is Nadella’s first go as CEO, so we’ll have to play a wait and see game before we know how independent he truly is.  Gates’ new role as Founder and Technology Advisor may be created specifically to give Nadella someone he can go to for advice, guidance and assistance. It may also be nothing more than a PR gimmick to help “erase” the Ballmerfication that I mentioned the other day.  We’ll have to wait and see.  However, given Nadella’s experience as an engineer and as the enterprise and cloud services guy, he’s got a good background to take the company into the future…provided he’s really given the opportunity and support to do so. It depends on how much of a voice Ballmer and Morfit each have on the Board.

What do you think? Did Ballmer really suck THAT bad? Is Gates’ new role as Founder and Technology Advisor for real or for show? Will Mason Morfit give Nadella problems, or will he wait and see how things go before pressing his agenda at the Board level?  Does Nadella look as though he will be successful, or will his entrance start the spinning of a revolving door outside the CEO’s office?  You tell me.  Why don’t you join me in the discussion area, below and give me your thoughts…?

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What will Bill do now, with the House that Gates Built?

Speculation is rife with what Gates will do after Microsoft’s new CEO is named

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I’ve always liked Mary Jo Foley.She’s got a great analytical mind, and her connections are awesome. When she puts out a new piece, it always makes me think…

Case in point – MJF recently opined about some interesting, behind the spot light issues related to Microsoft’s CEO search:

  1. No new info, despite her sources; so we still have to wait for a formal announcement
  2. The board and the company want to distance itself from Ballmer somewhat (or at least remove him from the spotlight)
  3. Gates is said to be stepping away from the role of Chairman

The world is waiting, and we want to know who is going to be the next Microsoft CEO.  While all signs currently point to Satya Nadella, no one knows for certain, and unfortunately (for him…), he and Ballmer have been pretty tight.  Being mentored by Stevie B. isn’t a bad thing.  However, I’m certain Wall Street wants a CEO bereft of and Ballmerfication, and unfortunately, in this case, being mentored by Ballmer certainly isn’t helping Nadella win the role.

However, there’s a lot of hub-bub going on behind the scenes regarding Bill Gates, former MS CEO and current Chairman of the Board of Directors.  The latest shizzle is all about Bill taking on a more prominent role at the company after the CEO transition is announced. That news is causing quite the stir.

Bill has been all about curing/preventing malaria and building a better toilet as part of the humanitarian work of the Bill and Malinda Gates Foundation.  While there may be active reports of him taking a more proactive role at MS after Ballmer’s retirement, I don’t see it happening. Gates has said repeatedly that his life’s work is his foundation, not the software company that built the fortune that enables it.  While Microsoft may power the Foundation, it’s not his driving focus. Helping humanity overcome its challenges is.

That being the case, any reports that are out there about Gates taking any kind of an active role in the fate of the software company are most likely false and nothing more than rumors. Microsoft spent a lot of time spinning Gates away from the organization as they spun Ballmer into control. Reversing that and adding a new CEO into the mix is only going to confuse everyone, including shareholders and Wall Street; and that’s exactly what Microsoft doesn’t want to do. They want to strengthen Microsoft’s stock position, not call it into question. Besides, it’s been more than six years since Bill’s been involved in Microsoft’s daily grind. I really don’t think he wants to get back into it.

What do you think? Will Bill Gates come back to Microsoft in a formal role after Steve Ballmer retires?  I’d love to hear what you think about this latest batch of rumors.  Why not join me in the discussion area, below and tell me what you think?

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