An exorcism at Microsoft | Computerworld

Satya Nadella has been Microsoft CEO for more than five years, having replaced Steve Ballmer in February 2014. Along the way, he’s made dramatic changes in the way Microsoft operates, doing things that Ballmer likely never would have done, including writing off, for $7.6 billion in 2015, Ballmer’s Nokia acquisition.

But at Microsoft’s recent annual Ignite developers conference, Nadella took actions that killed off Ballmer’s ghost — Microsoft now is clearly Nadella’s company, and Ballmer’s influence has been laid to rest. None of the actions was dramatic in its own right, but taken together, they show just how little of Ballmer’s legacy is left at Microsoft.

Let’s start with Microsoft’s unveiling of a release candidate of its new Edge browser. It’s based on open-source Chromium, which was originally developed by Google and powers Google’s Chrome browser.

Microsoft announced the move to Chromium months ago and has been releasing betas of the new Edge since then. But by showing off the browser at its annual developers conference, rather than rolling it out quietly, Microsoft emphasized how important the move is to the company’s future. It is saying that it will be working with multiple platforms, in a more open way.

These days, a browser might not seem central to Microsoft’s fate. But under Gates and Ballmer, owning the browser market with proprietary technology was at the core of the company’s Windows-centric strategy, a way to own people’s relationship with the web. Microsoft built Internet Explorer into Windows, wouldn’t allow other browsers to ship with Windows, and did its best to make sure alternate browsers couldn’t be easily installed.

We all know how that turned out: The federal government went after Microsoft for antitrust violations, and Google and other competitors arose.

Copyright © 2019 IDG Communications, Inc.


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