Microsoft's impossible dream: A lean mean, integrated machine

Microsoft's impossible dream: A lean mean, integrated machine

Summary: Check your enthusiasm for Microsoft's latest, greatest reorg at the door. Moving the execs and products are the easy part. The execution is a new ballgame entirely.


Microsoft is planning a reorganization designed to make the company more nimble, flatter and aligned behind software and services. Doesn't every large company dream of being flatter yet enjoying the scale girth brings?

The drumbeat for this reorganization, which is expected to be sweeping, has been picking up in recent days. Kara Swisher noted that Microsoft may outline its executive changes on Thursday. Bloomberg has also been on the case. ZDNet's Mary Jo Foley said a few days ago:

Think this through: Microsoft is in make-over mode. The company needs to make sure it can create services running across a family of devices -- not just its own, but non-Windows-based ones, too -- at a quicker pace. It needs to make sure its own platforms, like Windows PCs/tablets, Windows Phones and Xbox consoles, share a common interface, common code repository, common check-in process and common stores (when and if this commonality makes sense).

Under the current siloed structure, products which have increasing interdependencies and commonalities (like Windows and Windows Phone, for example) are not in the same business units. They should be for greater speed and efficiencies.

Add it up and Microsoft is chasing the flatter structure to improve collaboration. Shouldn't Windows 8, Windows RT and Windows Phone be roughly the same unit revolving around operating systems? Wouldn't it make sense to drop cloud services in the same place? Even better, a Microsoft reorganization could highlight what's really working at the company: Its enterprise businesses.

Morgan Stanley analyst Keith Weiss said:

Microsoft likely moves towards a flatter structure to better address the integration among its products. Microsoft has not commented, but we may soon see changes that should sharpen investors' focus around key Cloud and non-PC Enterprise assets.

On the white board, this reorg makes perfect sense. Microsoft's structure is a bit jumbled. Weiss produced the following graphic based on reports and Directions on Microsoft:



The chart is so much cleaner. Of course, Microsoft will execute better. Right? Not so fast. Large companies are always launching reorgs to move faster. Some companies---like Cisco---tend to get the drill down once they get bloated. Other companies reorganize and never quite cut it. Microsoft has reorganized many times throughout the years, but managed to miss the smartphone and tablet curves and now has to catch up. At some point, a company gets too big. Meanwhile, the conglomerate approach---similar to GE---does make sense even though there are silos. Microsoft's challenge is to integrate various products that may not quite go together.

I'm not saying that Microsoft's upcoming reorg is akin to moving deck chairs around on the Titanic. What I am saying is that a new structure isn't likely to change Microsoft's integration DNA among product lines that have been in separate units. In other words, check your enthusiasm for this reorg at the door. Moving the execs and products are the easy part. The execution is a new ballgame entirely.

Topics: Microsoft, Cloud, Software

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  • Very well done

    Very interessting article. It is a good way to understand what is going on at MS right now.
  • Integration

    At least the latest MS products are better integrated and functionalities are common. That's a good sign where things are heading.
  • A Company Whom Doesn't Listen to Customers Is a Stupid One

    Maybe MS can start with making the Windows 8.x desktop actually usable for desktop PC's. I don't want any of that modern crap on my machine.

    I'll just stick with 7/XP for gaming until games eventually start coding for Linux, as MS drives their Windows division into the ground because of stupid corporate decisions.
    Corona Borealis
    • Pure FUD. I use the W8 desktop all day long. It's better than W7.

      And faster. Haven't tried 8.1 yet.
      Johnny Vegas
      • So you are a…

        …masochist, good for you.

        But Windows 7 is not just better on the desktop, it is a real desktop OS and it doesn’t try to convert your desktop into a giant tablet.
        • Why So Many Crybabies

          The Windows 8 desktop is IDENTICAL to the Windows 7 except for the start menu, and nearly everyone I have ever known either pins their apps to the taskbar or onto the desktop - the start menu is a straw man for just hating the fact Microsoft is forcing the change.
          • why...

   the w8 toy device fanbois accuse people with real pcs of being crybabies who hate change? Come and see my gaming rig dufus and see who cries then...

            ... and it don't have coloured bricks on its 2560 x 1600 res giant screen either... or fingermarks...
    • Huzzah! Linux "entered" the discussion

      ***You*** don't agree with the corporate decisions of MSFT. Fine. I think it is a good decision for them to integrate software more with (own) hardware, as long as the general software (Windows, Office, etc.) will work as perfectly fine on other hardware as well.

      And thank heaven you don't need to install "modern crap" on your pc if you want to remain in the stone age. That is the best part of it. I just don't understand what Linux has to do with the whole subject.
      • Stone age?

        Sooo, Windows 7 is now stone age? Guess that's where I am, then!
      • RE:

        Whatever you say, Windows fanboi.
        Corona Borealis
    • Don't hold your breath

      ...for major game development to come to Linux. The big money in games right now is in mobile devices and consoles. There's absolutely no money for developers with Linux. It's not even on their radar.
      • You haven't visited Steam or talked to Valve?

        Steam is one of the largest digital distributor for games and they are pushing Linux heavily.
        With Android also being Linux your mobile view get a little off. You might want to say well they will do Android apps in the android virtual environment, but Game designers have commonly found way to access system resource outside virtual environments (By the way Android allows pure Linux development outside the android dalvik engine). Gaming currently anyone's game.
        • Not impossible, but not happening yet

          I wouldn't rule out a Linux gaming ecosystem, but one company does not an industry make.
    • Another Corona Borealis FUD fest?

      Sorry, but even on the most positive of news by writers and bloggers on something MS related, your posts are always "the half empty glass is cracked and leaking fast".

      Somehow I truly can't get myself to believe a word you ever say.
      William Farrel
      • RE:

        Here's a tissue
        Corona Borealis
  • Games

    Let's not forget that full 3D games can now run in a browser window, such as the new unreal engine in HTML5. MS is really up crap creek with their OS debacle. The sun is beginning to set.
    Corona Borealis
    • "Full 3-D gaming in a browser"

      You're not really going to be getting the same level of gaming from a browser that you will on a game actually coded to run on its own. You won't get the complexity of some games or the performance of others.
      Michael Alan Goff
      • Depends on the usage.

        Games history lesson (MMO) Ultima Online had a situation which can be used in this case (I know it was a long time ago). The game went from a 2D client to a 3D client at one point. It took a very long time for many to convert to the 3D client because it just didn't perform as well. Consumers were will to sacrifice cutting edge graphics for usability.

        This can and will become and issue with this again as web game engines move forward. Mozilla and Google both don't see this as a sit at your desktop browser technology. This will move to mobile platform (probably much quicker than anyone expects). The ability of an MMO to write one games engine and distribute on all platform is exciting. The advertising "play with your friends on iPhone, iPad, Android, PC (Windows,Linux,etc.) in the same game world at the same" is enough to sell a bad game a couple million times.
        • So

          From what you said, we can count on gaming being further dumbed down (which is sad, because mobile gaming is starting to rise higher) in the future? Is that what you're trying to say?
          Michael Alan Goff
          • Depend on the game.

            If you are complaining about the games being "dumbed down" think about what most current generation game engine is used (many big name games use Unreal 3 engine) Batman Arkham (all), Borderlands (both),Dishonored, Gear of War (all) to name a few. Guess which game engine has been ported to web? The unreal 3 engine and not a dumbed down version. On high end machine (which are required to play those games anyway) the performance is almost the same now and is set to the same soon.