Business

Report claims Stephen Elop’s Microsoft could kill Bing, sell Xbox, and put Office everywhere

Above: Steve Ballmer and Nokia's Stephen Elop at the Windows Phone 8 launch

Image Credit: Devindra Hardawar/VentureBeat

Could Microsoft one day sell its Xbox business and kill Bing? As CEO, Stephen Elop apparently wouldn’t be opposed to either idea. As odd as that sounds.

Microsoft is entering the final stages of its new CEO search, and Stephen Elop is already thinking out loud about how he would change the company, as Bloomberg reports.

For one, sources say, Elop would completely upend the relationship between Windows and Office. While Microsoft has long used Office as a way to drive demand for Windows, that strategy hasn’t transitioned well to the post-PC age, where Windows PCs (and hence Windows) aren’t as dominant as they were only a few years ago.

As a result, Elop would put Office on as many devices as possible, creating more full-featured versions of the software for both Android and iOS.

To understand where Elop is coming from, keep in mind that, as head of Microsoft’s business division from 2008 to 2010, he oversaw the creation of Office 365, which swapped Office’s licensing model for a subscription-based one. Microsoft now estimates that that business will pull in $1.5 billion a year.

Goodbye Xbox?

Elop’s Bing and Xbox ideas, in contrast, are bit more baffling if they’re true.

While both investors and the likes of Microsoft cofounder Paul Allen have pushed for Microsoft to spin-off or sell the divisions, both are becoming core parts of Microsoft. Bing is heavily integrated into Windows 8, for example, and Microsoft services like Skype are all over the Xbox One.

So, no, Bing and Xbox aren’t going anywhere anytime soon.

About that sourcing…

It’s worth calling out the sourcing on Bloomberg’s report, which is attributed to “three people with knowledge of his thinking.”

With Microsoft’s high-stakes CEO search coming to a close, it’s not crazy to think that those vying for Elop’s competitors could leak Elop’s unconventional plans for Microsoft in an effort to raise doubt that he’s the best fit for Microsoft’s top spot.

Either that, or Bloomberg’s sources are making it all up.


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