Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer is planning a management shake-up in the upcoming weeks according to reports.
Ballmer is planning to add senior product executives with technical engineering backgrounds according to Bloomberg. The changes could be announced and implemented as soon as this month according to the report. The move is likely to see managers who have engineering skills and product management experience promoted. Microsoft is attempting to catch up with rivals Apple and Google in the smartphone and tablet markets. The news comes after a run of high level executive departures at the company.
Bob Muglia, president of Microsoft’s Server and Tools business, announced in January that he will leave the firm in the Summer. Microsoft’s Ray Ozzie stepped down from his role as chief software architect in October and is currently planning to retire from Microsoft after a transition period. Microsoft Windows marketing chief Brad Brooks also announced he is stepping down to join Juniper Networks. Microsoft has also lost a key Kinect developer to Google.
Microsoft has promised a “major revamp” of Windows for slate applications, that will come in the next version, Windows 8. The software giant has been criticized for its slow response to Apple’s iPad device, introduced in April, 2010. Steve Ballmer, Microsoft CEO, previously said Windows 7 based Slates would be available “as soon as they’re ready” when questioned earlier in 2010. Microsoft’s hardware partners introduced a range of new form factors at CES, a mix between traditional Slates and laptops.
Samsung unveiled its Sliding PC 7 series Windows 7 Slate hybrid at CES earlier this year. The device features Intel’s 1.66GHz Z670 Oak Trail processor, 10.1″ touchscreen, 32GB SSD and 2GB of RAM. The tablet weighs just 2.1 pounds and will retail in March for $699. The iPad currently retails at $499 and sold three million units in its first 80 days of release. The iPad is currently selling approximately 4.5 million units per quarter, Bernstein Research estimates.
Microsoft Chairman, Bill Gates, said earlier last year that the company has a lot of different tablet projects it is pursuing. Microsoft canceled their internal Courier project shortly after the release of the iPad. The project was an innovative new tablet concept that had promised to combine a dual screen book design with finger and stylus input. The leaked promotional materials demonstrated various concepts that would have brought an unparalleled productivity tool to the market. Most media outlets and analysts felt the move to cancel the device was a mistake.
Microsoft’s management shakeup may help the company’s problems in the smartphone and tablet markets long term but it’s clear short term that the company needs to provide a clear road-map to its customers. Microsoft has failed to lay out a clear road-map for Windows Phone 7 updates, which is angering many new customers and loyal fans. The software giant was expected to announce and release its first Windows Phone 7 update in January. Microsoft officials are only promising an update in the first half of 2011 which is angering early adopters eager to see improvements for the platform. If the company wants to see an improvement in its mobile fortunes then providing regular updates and a clear plan of action for both consumers and developers is the best way to go.