Terry Myerson is out. Microsoft lists his full title as “executive vice president and the former leader of the Windows and Devices Group (WDG).” Yes, Microsoft needs shorter titles. In short, the chief of Windows is leaving the company after 21 years. And he’s not being replaced.
Microsoft reorganizes ahead of almost every fiscal year. But this time is different.
This time, the product that screams Microsoft is being reevaluated. Microsoft executives are coming out in droves to thank Myerson for his work and to reminisce about their time with him.
Even Bill Gates weighed in:
Thank you, @tmyerson, for your leadership and your contributions. You’ve made a lasting impact on Microsoft. I look forward to sharing many more Diet Cokes with you in the future. https://t.co/mi4yMwma6f
— Bill Gates (@BillGates) March 29, 2018
Instead of replacing Myerson, Nadella has carved up his division and issued four “leadership changes.” Microsoft devices chief Panos Panay is now Microsoft’s chief product officer. Kudo Tsunoda is still focused on “high-valued experiences,” and Brad Anderson is still in charge of Windows Enterprise deployment.
The rest of the announcement is all about Microsoft’s cloud and AI efforts, which is nothing new for anyone who follows the company, even from afar. The former is where Microsoft’s growth is currently coming from — just look at any of the company’s recent earnings reports — and the latter is where the company is betting future growth will go.
Windows 10’s role
But where does that leave Windows?
The fourth leadership change that doesn’t talk about the cloud or AI involves Joe Belfiore, corporate vice president of Microsoft’s operating systems group. And interestingly, it gets the most detail from Nadella:
Joe Belfiore will continue leading our Windows experiences and will drive Windows innovation in partnership with the PC and device ecosystem. The future of Windows is bright as we continue to innovate across new scenarios and device form factors, and more deeply connect to our Microsoft 365 offerings. Joe will share more about the Windows roadmap at Build.
(Build 2018 is happening May 7 to May 9 in Seattle.)
So how does this tie in with Myerson’s departure? Microsoft is both downplaying the importance of Windows and making a point of continuing to invest in Windows.
Office 365 and Azure — Microsoft’s latest success stories — would be nothing without Windows. But they’re the future of Microsoft, at least until the company thinks of a different strategy. Because Windows holds not just those two, but all of Microsoft together, it stays.
Actually, it doesn’t just stay. It’s going to keep getting better. Windows 10 is already receiving two major free updates every year. Four have been released so far, the fifth is coming next month, the sixth is already in development, and more are in the pipeline.
Microsoft is well aware that Windows by itself is not enough. It’s been relegated to just a piece of the larger puzzle. But that piece still matters, at least in Microsoft’s eyes.
With Belfiore in charge, expect a lot more initiatives like Continue on PC, which lets you send a task from your Android or iOS device to your Windows 10 computer. Windows 10 is going to play a role, but it won’t be the main attraction.
Windows as we’ve known it for the past three decades is dead. But Windows isn’t dead. It’s just not the future.
ProBeat is a column in which Emil rants about whatever crosses him that week.
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