Business focus sought from Gates’ successors

IT directors are seeking a more enterprise-focused Microsoft following the announcement of co-founder Bill Gates’ retirement plans.

IT directors are seeking a more enterprise-focused Microsoft following the announcement of co-founder Bill Gates’ retirement plans.

Gates will step down in two years, but the transition process has already begun in earnest with Gates relinquishing a core part of his work at Microsoft with immediate effect.

Ray Ozzie, who wrote the world's first spreadsheet programme, has taken over Gates’ role as chief software architect, and Craig Mundie has taken on responsibility for the company's research efforts.

Richard Lovelock, head of IT at the Royal British Legion, spoke for many when he said, “Most IT managers would hope that Microsoft will now focus more on delivering secure and cost-effective business IT solutions, rather than trying to beat Google in the search arena and Sony with its XBox 360.”

Kay Gamble, an IT consultant at motor manufacturer Ford, agreed. “Microsoft should be more business-focused rather than pushing out products to be more customer-focused,” she said.

The new leadership can make a real difference at Microsoft, according to Ollie Ross, research manager at the Corporate IT Forum whose members represent the IT departments of many blue-chip UK companies.

“The challenge for the new order will be to achieve a balance in development work. This means driving innovation further,” she said.

David Tidey, head of information systems at the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea, welcomed the change of focus for Ray Ozzie within the Microsoft leadership team, and the opportunity for greater stress on collaborative technology that Ozzie could bring.

Roger Ellis, chairman of the IT Directors Network, which represents 200 UK IT leaders, said, “Microsoft needs to look at improving the basic kernel of Windows to try to make it less prone to security issues and improve reliability.”

Mike McElwee, ICT director at English Heritage, said, “In spite of the criticism he has sometimes justifiably received, Gates has actually done more, by sheer marketing power, to impose de facto standardisation on the IT industry than anyone or anything else. Life before Gates was much more confused and difficult for IT people.”

The rise of Bill Gates

Pioneer of home computing Bill Gates founded Microsoft in 1975 with Paul Allen.

The company’s Microsoft Basic software became the de facto standard for home users to program their computers. However, it was a key meeting with hardware manufacturer IBM in 1980, at which Microsoft was commissioned to build Dos (Disc Operating System), that began the
PC revolution.

During the 1980s, Dos became ubiquitous in the PC world, creating the £130bn company that is Microsoft today, and making Gates the richest man in the world, with an estimated personal fortune of £27bn.

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