A new interview with Nokia’s Stephen Elop, who is currently up as a primary contender for the Microsoft CEO position, has surprised many in the tech industry with his ideas on the direction he would take the company.
The idea that the brand would be given a new focus is a given; whoever ends up in the head seat is going to have their own theories on what is best. Ballmer’s restructuring of the company is also not likely to remain in action long once that position has been filled.
Some of what Elop said was standard lip service, and didn’t bring anything especially new to the table. For example, he claimed that he would focus on making traditional software cross platform for mobile devices, like Office. But that is something Microsoft has already been aiming to do, and they have always provided cross platform compatibility. Even if their mobile versions are not yet up to scratch.
But a more interesting (and questionable) statement was made about their current projects. He made it clear that he is not afraid to sell off sections of the brand, even successful ones, if he feels they are becoming dead weight. Two examples were Bing and XBox, both major programs that have been developed over many years.
While Bing might be understandable to a point, given its inability to have ever made a real dent in Google’s traffic, the XBox revelation was staggering. Not only is it one of the three major consoles that have dominated the market, but it is highly integrated with other Windows services. Just Windows Live alone shows how it would be incredibly difficult to disentangle such products from the overall Microsoft brand.
As a gamer myself, I can say that my hope is that whoever takes the CEO chair is willing to make real changes to the XBox format and operations. The commercialization of XBox Live, and the often outrageous extra charges and hoops that you have to jump through, are ridiculous. With the XBox One, those issues have become even more glaring and annoying.
I know I am not the only one who refuses to upgrade to the latest version of the XBox. But given their track record, and the awful history they have with cross generation game compatibility, it seems obvious that they will make it mandatory over time as they phase the XBox 360 out and make it more dependent on the internet.
Fingers crossed the new head honcho, whether it is Elop or not, puts a stop to that.