Microsoft must simplify for speed

Steve Ballmer became chief executive of Microsoft in January 2000, a few months before a federal judge ordered the company to be broken up on antitrust grounds, because it was too powerful and was extending its grip too widely. This ruling was later reversed and, 11 years later Microsoft remains in one piece, and its size and scope has turned into its weakness.This week, Microsoft paid $8.5bn to acquire Skype in Mr Ballmer’s latest bid to seize back the initiative from nimbler rivals such as Apple and Google. It overpaid for a company that lost $7m last year but the deal was a decent tax arbitrage with its spare overseas cash. If throwing a couple of billion too much at a tempting asset were the problem, Mr Ballmer would be secure.The real difficulty is that Microsoft faces unresolved questions over its strategy and its ability to fulfil its ambitions, and Mr Ballmer does not look like a man with the answers. Having “an ambitious, forward-looking, irrepressible nature”, as he described Microsoft on Tuesday, is one thing; having the ideas, discipline and focus to defeat a disparate array of competitors in many fields is quite another.
http://www.ft.com/intl/cms/s/0/b693af60-7c01-11e0-9b16-00144feabdc0.html

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