The open letter from Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella shows that the Ballmer era is indeed over and he's ready to shake some trees, rock some boats, insert your favorite cliché here, to change course at that company.
The letter makes it pretty clear that Nadella is looking to reverse course on what Ballmer was doing, particularly at the end of his run. It doesn't get clearer than in this statement:
"More recently, we have described ourselves as a ‘devices and services’ company. While the devices and services description was helpful in starting our transformation, we now need to hone in on our unique strategy."
Translation: get lost Ballmer, go play with your new basketball team.
Nadella is basically saying that "Devices and Services" is not his vision; software and productivity in a new mobile-first, cloud-first market is. I would not be surprised if the screwball reorg done by Ballmer just before he left is completely undone, to which I say good.
Changes are coming because Nadella said it will happen. "Over the course of July, the Senior Leadership Team and I will share more on the engineering and organization changes we believe are needed," he wrote.
Microsoft's Worldwide Partner Conference takes place next week in Washington, D.C., and the Microsoft Global Exchange (MGX) conference takes place one week later. That's a conference for Microsoft employees, so if there's a time for Nadella to preach the new gospel, that would be it.
Nadella also hinted at faster release cycles, which Ballmer had already begun to accelerate before his departure. "Software Engineering will evolve so that information can travel more quickly, with fewer breakpoints between the envisioning of a product or service and a quality delivery to customers. In making these changes we are getting closer to the customer and pushing more accountability throughout the organization," he wrote
His reference to accountability throughout the organization and the possibility of a reorg could mean layoffs. Microsoft now tops out at 125,000 employees after the Nokia deal. That company could use a trimming.
Quite a bit has changed at Microsoft since he took the helm, and I interpret this letter to mean a lot more is coming.