Paul Allen left a while ago, Bill Gates prefers his charity work, Steve Ballmer is focused on the Los Angeles Clippers, and now the Microsoft company has been in the hands of Satya Nadella for a little over a year. And he seems to have a big job on his hands, how to shape the future of Microsoft.
Along with a renewed focus on the cloud and a shift away from product, his latest major shift has been to undo Ballmer's purchase of Nokia with a write down and the loss of almost 8000 jobs. Sometimes you have to get smaller and focus before you can start building again.
But what will Microsoft look like in 5 years. Certainly not a hardware company and likely no branded Microsoft smartphone. They still have the Surface tablet but most tablet makers think that larger smartphones will upend that product line. As for internet advertising, the deal with AOL pushes that business out too. And while Microsoft has a successful gaming venture with XBox, they have already decided to no longer invest in original content. The likely outcome is that XBox gets spun off or sold.
Microsoft Office is pushing further into the cloud space. But the license fee model is being challenged head on by Google with its free programs. Many schools today use Google docs and other online collaboration tools with their students to enhance education. Bottom line, kids are becoming more proficient on these programs and less so on Microsoft Office.
Software and cloud computing remain the future of Microsoft but that world continues to change rapidly. What is in the pipeline over the next few years remains to be seen. Given their capital war chest, they have the resources to create or buy to maintain their dominance. But given the missteps they have been making in the past, the next right step will really matter.