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New CEO Nadella 'Likely Not Microsoft's First Choice'

By Kimberly Koerth
February 06, 2014 - News

Speculation is rising as to why Microsoft didn't hire someone from outside the company after the software giant announced Tuesday that Satya Nadella, executive vice president in charge of cloud and enterprise, would be taking over the role of CEO from Steve Ballmer, who announced his plan for retirement in August.

“Yankee Group has previously suggested that Microsoft hire someone from outside the company, a person unburdened by the internal politics with a fresh perspective and a drive to change the stalling business of the software giant. The company instead went for the safe option," noted Yankee Group analyst Boris Metodiev. "It is hard to imagine that Nadella will embark on any major strategic changes ... The fact that there was a five-month search for Ballmer’s replacement, which included more popular names, most likely means that Nadella was also not Microsoft’s first choice."

But to many, Nadella's hiring doesn't come as a surprise. He's been a Microsoft employee for more than 20 years. The company's cloud and enterprise group has been fast-growing under his leadership. Although the board reportedly considered outside hires like Ford CEO Alan Mulally before settling on Nadella, its decision suggests it wants the company to continue its course, according to Business Insider. If the board had gone with an outside hire, then that would have signaled a desired change in direction and focus.

Nadella will have to bring the company up to speed with the consumer shift to mobile computing devices such as tablets and smartphones, Business Insider said. Windows 8, its newest operating system, received a lukewarm response despite its hybrid design for both traditional computers and touchscreen devices. Still, other Microsoft enterprises like Office and Xbox are maintaining their success.

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