Microsoft heads into a new error

Software King of the World Microsoft has announced that its new supreme Dalek will be Satya Nadella who will replace the shy and retiring Steve Ballmer.

Nadella, who has a name a bit like Nigella, is tragically not interested in cooking or being strangled by PR executives, has a big job ahead of him.

The 46-year-old Indian native and former enterprise business chief might find his hands tied with Bill Gates and Ballmer still on the board. Steve Ballmer might not go quietly, in fact Ballmer does not do anything quietly.

As we expected Sir William Gates III is demoting himself and giving up the board chairmanship to fellow director John Thompson. Historically that means the team who fuelled the PC generation are no longer in power, although some would say that the PC is gone anyway and has been replaced by tablets.

It looks to us that Vole is now being run by a triumvirate; Satya is the new CEO, Gates is the product adviser and John Thompson is running the board. However triumvirates only work if all three get on, and one of them is not bedding an Egyptian queen. It also helps if one of them is a Lepidus who does little to get in the way of the other two.

However there are already questions over whether Satya is going to be allowed to make the big changes that Microsoft needs to make, both at the product and people level. At the moment Vole is lots of competing fiefdoms with managers spending more time bumping each other off than producing new products.

Lately Vole has been focusing on “devices and services” rather than licensing software, and has been trying to copy Apple, just as the latter’s star has been falling.

Investors hate that idea and want to stop Vole ploughing billions into mobile devices and focus at what it is good at.

Gates is promising to be a regular sight around Microsoft’s Redmond, Washington, campus after pledging to spend a third of his time as the new CEO’s adviser. He thinks that Nigella’s cloud computing expertise qualifies him to lead Microsoft into the new arena of mobile computing.

“Satya’s got the right background to lead the company during this era,” he said. “There’s a challenge in mobile computing. There’s an opportunity in the cloud.”

Still Nigella is laughing all the way to the bank. He gets a salary of $1.2 million, a maximum annual cash bonus of three times that and a stock award of $13.2 million for next fiscal year.

It is more than Ballmer took home. That is mostly because Steve was too shy to take stock awards, which he deemed unnecessary given his ownership of $12 billion worth of Microsoft shares.

Still it is a lot less than Marissa Mayer, who got a compensation package that could total more than $70 million when she took the helm at Yahoo two years ago.

Nadella, who describes himself as a cricket and poetry lover, called the appointment “humbling” in an email to employees. In a videotaped statement, he said he would focus on “ruthlessly” removing any obstacles to innovation. Given the fact he has a whole Volehill of managers who are clearly in the way there could be a lot of sackings.