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Microsoft Realigns Itself

This past week, Microsoft released a sweeping email and memo about its intention to “realign” to the new realities of the industry. This difficult-to-read corporate-speak addresses Microsoft employees asking them to refocus efforts towards consumerization and an interesting “One Microsoft” idea. Much of it is just Microsoft patting itself on the back and a weird attempt to appear forward-thinking and efficient that is anything but.

But, there were a few interesting things that piqued my interest in these messages.

1. In the memo, the unknown writer references the phrase: “Lean in“. – Is this some sort of reference to Sheryl Sandberg’s book Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead?

2. Again in the memo, the writer says: “I am convinced that by deploying our smart-cloud assets across a range of devices, we can make Windows devices once again the devices to own. ” – The statement appears to clearly assume that Windows devices are not the “devices to own”. This appears to be a clear admission of failure, possibly alluding to Microsoft’s inability to sell Surface tablets.  Since we don’t know who’s writing this, the ownership of this phrase carries less weight than if Ballmer had said it.

3. The memo also appears to mention the tiled “Metro” interface on Windows 8.1: “We will keep evolving our new modern look” – Could this be the definitive name for Metro or just a vague allusion to Microsoft’s products being modern.

4. In Ballmer’s email he says: “We will see our product line holistically, not as a set of islands.” – Clearly a reference to the evils of compartmentalization, it seems this may be the subtext for this realignment.

My sense of tone is very negative. Microsoft clearly sees that it is failing in a number of respects and is trying to react to it (albeit, very late). If I were a Microsoft employee, I’d take this email and memo as a precursor to job cuts and possibly divisional cuts. Certainly, time will tell.