Microsoft's Restructuring Plan to Unify Device Units, Shake Up Executives
September 9, 2013 12:27 PM
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However, hardware and software units will be kept separate
Microsoft announced a restructuring plan back in July that would shift the inner workings of the tech company, and now, we're getting a glimpse of the changes that will take place as this plan is carried out thanks to
The new restructuring plan is called "One Microsoft," and the main idea is to bring the Windows Phone, PC and Xbox units closer together for a more seamless experience across multiple devices. This unified approach would make using multiple Microsoft devices easier for users who want a similar experience with details unique to each machine.
To execute this sort of unification, Microsoft is adjusting executive roles. For starters, Windows and Windows Phone head Terry Myerson will have at least seven direct reports under the new plan. They include leaders for development, test and program-management positions; those heading Microsoft's phone, tablet, PC, Xbox and service departments, and a person in charge of future special projects (such as smart watches).
Other leadership changes include putting Henry Sanders (who had worked with Myerson on Windows Phone) in head of development; having Joe Belfiore (also from the Windows Phone team) lead a group focused on phones, tablets and PCs; putting Marc Whitten in charge of the Xbox team, and allowing Chris Jones to continue heading services.
Some big executives were left out of the list, such as Windows testing head Grant George, Jon DeVaan and Windows services head Antoine Leblond. It's not clear if they will move to other positions in the company or leave quite yet, but their absence from the list of those being repositioned within raises a few red flags.
While Microsoft is looking to bring device departments together, the company will keep hardware and software units separate. This is a move
contradictory to that of Apple
, which only recently started pushing software and hardware units together in the development of devices like iPhones and iPads for a more integrated experience.
Microsoft is in a serious transition period, and many believe that it's much needed. Microsoft has had a difficult time stirring up enthusiasm for Windows Phone against competitors like Apple and Samsung, and the Windows maker was late to the tablet game -- releasing its Surface tablet in October 2012 after the iPad had already been out for over two years.
To make matters worse, Microsoft's Surface was initially released with the Windows RT operating system (the full Windows 8 Pro-powered Surface wasn't released until February 2013) and it was a major flop. Many say RT isn't a full Windows 8 experience, lacking the ability to run legacy apps.
While the decision to restructure Microsoft was helped by current CEO Steve Ballmer, it was announced last month that he
would be retiring
sometime in the next year. While he has said that he planned to retire himself, he's also made other statements that show he
wasn't ready to leave so soon
-- and that Microsoft's board may be pushing him out as part of the transition period.
All Things D
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9/10/2013 6:31:48 PM
Stop taking it quite so literally. Let's take your example of the kitchen. In my kitchen I have a stove and a dishwasher and refrigerator all made by Whirlpool. There are buttons on the stove that control the oven portion, and buttons on the fridge that control the ice maker, and buttons on the dishwasher. All of those buttons look very similar, and work ostensibly the same way. There is a common design language between them. It's part of what makes using them intuitive. Once you know how one works, the others all work just as easily. Yes, buttons are buttons, but you can extrapolate the idea from that simple button paradigm into the idea that if you create systems where things are in the same place, they won't be intimidated by the idea of learning something new...again.
Right now, let's say you have Windows, and an Android phone and an iPad. You have to learn three new systems to use them effectively. None of the language is similar, and everything is in different places. If MS can get people to recognize how to use Win 8 and enjoy the experience, then when they look for a new phone and see something they already know and understand, they will love it. If people buy the new Xbox and enjoy the experience, they will want a Windows Phone to go with it to do the cool stuff you can only do with a Windows Phone and an Xbox. If they tie in that same usage with Windows on the desktop and tablet, people will buy into the ecosystem.
The only way to excite people is by having devices that do things that are different. If you can create a system where the Windows Phone is cool by itself, but incredible with an Xbox (and follow that logic that adding a Windows 8 desktop adds something else amazing, etc.) then you can get people to buy into an entire paradigm. It's actually quite a brilliant strategy that MS has the capability to do that no one else does. They have just failed at the implementation.
"When an individual makes a copy of a song for himself, I suppose we can say he stole a song." -- Sony BMG attorney Jennifer Pariser
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