Microsoft desperately needs to find its new CEO soon

Microsoft CEO Search Analysis

As Microsoft’s CEO search has dragged on and on, we’ve been treated to a series of leaks about its future plans that in many cases seem completely contradictory. For example, we’ve heard over just the last month that Microsoft is considering ditching the Metro UI for Windows Phone while at the same time adding more Metro UI features to the desktop mode of Windows 8. Why Microsoft would abandon the Metro UI for its mobile devices while only pushing it more onto the desktop is anyone’s guess but the likely answer is that many different factions within the company are leaking different ideas as trial balloons to see which ones generate the most positive response.

Michael Mace, the founder of contextual awareness app Zekira and a longtime executive at Apple and Palm, reads all the recent rumors we’ve heard about the company’s plans and concludes that Microsoft seems to have “gone nuts” without a successor to Steve Ballmer in place. Adding to the uncertainty is the fact that Microsoft is undergoing its biggest transition in years as Ballmer has tried to steer its business plan from being a software company to being a devices and services company, while also trying to steer its corporate culture away from factionalism and toward becoming “One Microsoft.”

“It’s important to remember that Microsoft is in the middle of its biggest business transition ever,” Mace explains on his MobileOpportunity blog. “It’s simultaneously getting ready to merge with an enormous Finnish phone company, and hiring its first CEO who wasn’t a cofounder. That sort of situation typically encourages bizarre behavior. For example, groups will try to lobby for their favorite projects by leaking information about them, trying to build up public support that will influence the new CEO.”

Of course, it isn’t only outsiders who think that Microsoft needs to find its new CEO relatively quickly. AllThingsD quotes several anonymous Microsoft executives who are all pining to get some consistent direction for where the firm is headed.

“Everyone is just waiting for the decision,” one Microsoft exec said. “Even though we are supposed to be carrying out the new One Microsoft plan that Ballmer created, it’s pretty much a wait-and-see for everyone.”

“We can’t really wait, since things are moving so fast at other companies,” explained another. “So everyone is hoping for a resolution before the new year… it would be a symbol that change is finally going to come here.”

Even so, picking a new CEO alone won’t be an immediate cure-all for the company’s current lack of direction. Mace says that choosing a new boss is just the start and that we will keep seeing strange, contradictory leaks come out of Redmond for at least six months after the new CEO takes the helm.

“We should expect to see more odd behavior until MS picks a new CEO,” he writes. “Then it’ll be several months of strategic reviews, followed by ritual bloodletting and reorganization. So Microsoft is likely to continue to be confused for at least the first half of 2014, and that’s assuming they can choose a new CEO quickly, something they may not be able to do.”

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