It's a new day at Microsoft. For the first time in decades, neither Bill Gates nor Steve Balmer are involved in running the company. While Gates left years ago to concentrate on his charitable foundation, Balmer stepped down as CEO six months ago, and this week he dropped off the Board of Directors. Instead of concentrating on charity, Balmer will use his trademark enthusiasm to cheer on his newest acquisition, the Los Angeles Clippers.
Balmer is not the first Microsoft exec to buy a sports team. The Seattle Seahawks and Portland Trailblazers were acquired by Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen years ago. There must be something about rich geeks wanting to own sports teams! I admit, when I went to Carnegie Mellon University, and I was the official school mascot (Scottie Dog!) we had a cheer for whenever the other team scored... "That's alright, that's okay. You're gonna work for us someday!" I remember seeing the billionaire Balmer one day at the Consumer Electronics Show a few years back, and I wanted to say "Who wants to be a millionaire? Not you!" ... but I thought better of it, and left him alone!
Microsoft's new CEO, Satya Nadella, isn't wasting any time trying to transform the software (and hardware) company. He emraces the "Mobile First, Cloud First" trend, which Steve Jobs called "the Post PC Era" of course! Recently, Microsoft has gotten aggressive with low-end laptops, allowing some manufacturers to ship Windows PCs without paying a royalty to Microsoft. This has allowed them to price competitively with Google Chromebooks. Their pitch is, instead of compromising with a non-standard laptop (and getting "scroogled") customers can get an actual Windows computer that runs Office and has a decent screen.
Microsoft is trying to swing the pendulum back from Netbooks to iPads to Chromebooks, and now on to these low-end Windows laptops. Whether it works, we'll have to see, but with new leadership from Nadella comes the chance to make some bold moves without the baggage of previous CEOs looking over his shoulder.