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Why is Bill Gates Back at Microsoft?

By - Source: Tom's Hardware US | B 38 comments

A spoonful of sugar helps the medicine go down.

Earlier today, Microsoft named its third CEO as Satya Nadella. Nadella has a strong history in enterprise and cloud services at Microsoft, and since his appointment as CEO, many have assumed (including us) that this is the direction Microsoft is headed. Nadella is taking the reigns and steering Microsoft towards a future that focuses heavily on enterprise software, cloud computing, and big data. That's the big story of the day. But almost as big is the fact that Nadella won't be leading Microsoft alone. Indeed, he'll have some help from founder and former CEO and chairman Bill Gates.

Alongside the appointment of Nadella as CEO, Microsoft announced that Bill Gates would step down from his position as Chairman of the Board and right into the brand new role of 'Technology Advisor' to Satya Nadella. The specifics of this new role have not yet been laid out. Microsoft has only said that Gates will "devote more time to the company, supporting Nadella in shaping technology and product direction."

What does this mean? Why is Bill back? At best, the message is that Satya is the talent and leadership Microsoft needs to succeed in enterprise and cloud computing, a monstrous market, but lacks vision when it comes to consumer product and direction. At worst, Gates' presence is purely to appease shareholders who believe Microsoft needs fresh blood and a true innovator to move forward. A mix of the two is probably most likely. As we said earlier, if Microsoft can leverage its position in the work place in order to expand its reach in enterprise and take it to the next level with cloud services, it's looking at a very bright future. Satya's vision for Microsoft undoubtedly revolves around enterprise, cloud computing, and big data. He definitely doesn't need Bill to help him get there (Microsoft's revenue from Cloud Services went from $16.6 billion to $20.3 billion in the two years after Satya was put in charge of the Cloud and Enterprise group). So Gates' new role is likely just a reassurance that someone with a reputation for innovation and success is still involved, influencing decisions with sound judgement, and offering advice on products.

Investor reaction to Microsoft's announcement was positive. Shares opened at $37.11 this morning, up from yesterday's closing price of $36.48. Things have leveled off a bit as the day has worn on. At time of writing, Microsoft shares were sitting at $36.54. We'd like to see the Sliding Doors scenario where Gates wasn't a part of today's announcement, just so we could see the true reaction to Satya's appointment without the security blanket that is Bill Gates.

The good news for consumers is that two heads are, almost always, better than one. As long as Satya Nadella isn't the kind of man opposed to back-seat drivers, Bill Gates will be able to offer a lot of valuable advice in areas where Satya could probably do with some help. The end result is a stronger and better executed product vision, which is awesome for all computer users.

Follow Jane McEntegart @JaneMcEntegart. Follow us @tomshardware, on Facebook and on Google+.

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  • -1 Hide
    clutchc , February 4, 2014 2:12 PM
    Technology Adviser? Maybe to save the company before Windows 8 takes it down.
  • 18 Hide
    hakesterman , February 4, 2014 2:14 PM
    Because the shareholders know that they are pretty much Doomed without him.
  • -8 Hide
    Datcu Alexandru , February 4, 2014 2:34 PM
    Personally i would love if they either sell the xbox and whoever gets it can take it in a different direction so in the end we would have sony nintendo and ? each one taking their console in a different direction rather than fighting for exclusives and hardware specs.Or they take the xbox along with their vision of the cloud (yeah im starting to hate the term) and make what they originally wanted to do with xbox one but this time do it right and market it right. All digital is fine (just look at steam) but it needs to have advantages like price reduction, better support etc. Or if they keep the full price than that game better offer blow jobs for it.
  • 1 Hide
    Blazer1985 , February 4, 2014 3:02 PM
    The moment I saw him dressed like an angry bird I KNEW he was up to something :-)To answer the youporn devotee: "all digital" is more than fine until you hit the 20-50gb per game of recent AAA titles as it can take days on slower adsl.
  • 12 Hide
    drwho1 , February 4, 2014 3:07 PM
    I will never care about "the cloud" no matter who's in charge.The day that I need extra storage, I will just build a home NAS.
  • -4 Hide
    brandonjclark , February 4, 2014 3:28 PM
    You're not the audience then, drwho1.
  • 9 Hide
    ddpruitt , February 4, 2014 4:24 PM
    Bill Gates isn't back at Microsoft, he never left. He's just taking a more active role. It makes sense considering this is the first time Microsoft doesn't have a CEO that was with the company from the beginning. Although I think the board doesn't know what it's doing, you could see the problems with Balmer miles away.
  • -1 Hide
    vaughn2k , February 4, 2014 4:34 PM
    Well I am not being optimistic about cloud storage and stuff. But I begin to realize, I need something out there, a storage whenever I am on the road, with only a smart phone on hand. Cloud storage gives me an advantage to pull-out my data whenever I need it, good thing is also the Skydrive advantage. it allows me to fetch needed files remotely. I mean this stuff is great, I am just hoping that enough security is in place, so I can place everything in cloud.
  • 3 Hide
    Rhinofart , February 4, 2014 4:43 PM
    @Multipleads.How on earth can you possibly attribute that to being Windows 8. Disk read errors go back to the very beginning of time (Well computer time anyways) And Any OS on earth can get a disk read error if there is an error on the disk! If your system borked like that, look to your disks rather than the OS.
  • 2 Hide
    dakkon , February 4, 2014 5:43 PM
    You guys do know that the term "cloud" does not only pertain to online storage? drwho1
  • -3 Hide
    Jordan Nwokolo , February 4, 2014 6:22 PM
    This Company is destined to fall in the near future..whoever in charge will not able to save it.
  • 0 Hide
    coolitic , February 4, 2014 6:28 PM
    Bill Gates as technology advisor? What I'm hearing is that they might actually make Windows 9 good!But since it's Microsoft we're talking about, there is a chance for disappointment.
  • 3 Hide
    tableholder , February 4, 2014 7:27 PM
    Bill gates in however you cloth or style him still looks like a geek. Its funny.Jokes aside, i hope that MS wont force windows users in the future to use "cloud storage". If they do that, then they better be prepared to face another angry mob like what they saw with Win8.Cloud compute in the other hand i would embrace lovingly. As long as they provide it for free. Like windows updates.
  • 0 Hide
    boytitan2 , February 4, 2014 7:47 PM
    I just don't see the point of the cloud my music collection is only 20 gigabytes, most people stream videos, My manga and comic collection is under 20 gigs. My game collection is never going to go over 2 terabytes and I would never put a game n the cloud my whole problem with F2P games is how much of the game is in the cloud and not on your p.c. killing any modding one could do with it.Also cloud gaming is terrible look at Sim City just a horrible idea,Recorded video gameplays only use 150 gigs of space and that is because I am stubborn and still use fraps.Finally why create a extra step.I get het 25 megabit per second transfer speeds max with my internet which is not close to fast enough for the cloud transferring large amounts of date from 1 computer to another would be faster with a outdated standard like usb 2.0. So in general the cloud is just pointless why would some one use it you don't go and put files on your friends computer for back up so why use a strangers. Plus the personal storage you yourself can get makes the cloud just pointless.
  • 0 Hide
    Jgriff , February 4, 2014 8:34 PM
    To save it from what it has become.
  • 3 Hide
    Grandmastersexsay , February 4, 2014 8:40 PM
    "The cloud" is doomed to failure.

    As a pretty good rule of thumb, anything that comes from a conference room is garbage. Even its name reeks of MBA douche baggerey. Just call it remote storage for crying out loud.

    They just don't teach enough common sense in business school I guess. There are two huge problems "The Cloud" faces. First is the fact that the price per GB of hard drives and other physical storage media will always be decreasing. So 1 TB of online storage is worth less and less as time goes by. That means the money companies invest into server equipment, ect, depreciates very quickly.

    The second problem "The Cloud" faces are ever increasing privacy concerns. More and more people are figuring out, if they have something stored "In The Cloud" advertisers and all kind of three letter agencies are scanning their data for information they deem useful. People are also learning that the saying, "if you have nothing hide, you have nothing to fear" is a flat out lie. Evidence of crime is not found, it is created.

    Considering how trivial it is to set up your own free remote server, using your own hardware, I just can't see how "The Cloud" can support a multi billion dollar company in a market that is becoming increasingly hostile towards privacy violations.

  • 0 Hide
    somebodyspecial , February 4, 2014 10:49 PM
    Anyone putting info in the cloud is a moron. If you like your information being PRIVATE keep it IN HOUSE. Period. Hire or train good IT people instead of outsourcing your security. For a company like Netflix etc ok I get it. You're serving data all day, not really trying to protect it like credit cards, etc. But for personal or company info to be in the clouds? You should be fired for being stupid and have no business being in IT. It will never be hack proof if it's in the cloud.

    Toms keeps pitching this cloud crap, and it is ridiculous. I pay no attention to the IT posts now because of this. It's almost as if their IT side here, is paid to pitch clouds, cloud certs etc. STUPID. Apparently I'm not alone, as most of those posts have ZERO comments on them... Well, because any decent IT guy knows you don't want ANY data in the cloud that you actually want protected.

    MS heading to the clouds...LOL. This tells me one thing: My comments that OpenGL, WebGL, HTML5 etc will take over gaming via Android, linux, SteamOS etc are correct and MS is losing the desktop along with Intel. They are now totally defensive and reactive just like any empire who has sat too long on the throne and became complacent (IE Buying nokia to sell your OS because everyone has android which is free - too late, just like buying yahoo to catch google - two losers, BING/YAHOO don't make a winner). I look forward to the new regime which will also usher in a HUGE user base of units for game devs to make money on and hopefully better/LONGER games at some point (less risk with so many units to aim at). We should get more unique titles eventually instead of Call of Duty 65/Battlefield 39 or whatever...LOL. Little indie devs can make some great games that will make them millionaires. Write for the API's I mentioned instead of DirectX and you can port everywhere cheaply and easily which helps the little guys get on the map in a way that they never could years before. These API's allow you to shoot at a few Billion units rather than a few hundred million PC's, a few hundred million consoles (~85mil each and all needing a different version and far more coding) etc. It is far easier for them to make money without WINTEL/DirectX being dominant.

    First games to help make windows/Wintel less appealing. Then watch as apps follow making Wintel...Kind of like RIMM etc :)  But I expect both to survive, just my kids or their kids might not even know what windows looks like as they may never see it and may never own an x86 chip.

    Like drwho1, I'll build a nas if needed (and am looking finding a great one now). They are cheap enough now, that cloud storage is pointless to me even if I thought it was safe. For around $650 you can get 4x3TB drive and a nas which is more than enough for my needs. Anything outside your house, or outside your business doors is OUT of your control. 2013 the year of hacks? ROFL@clouds futures. Even big companies can't seem to keep data safe inside or outside (I think due to crap IT but whatever), so best to trust yourself and train employees properly. I've been in multiple companies where servers were months out of date on updates etc and management seems to have no clue this is the case, which usually happens when they weren't IT themselves at any point in their careers but just managers in general. Police your IT or get police'd (so to speak) by China hackers etc... :(  At this point your IT manager should probably have a background in IT security or servers at least, or prepare to be screwed soon.
  • 0 Hide
    cats_Paw , February 5, 2014 12:50 AM
    Everybody who wants to know about cloud knows enought.I keep some stuff on the cloud, but NEVER things that are remotly private.This new age crap of shoving down our throats new things like they are the future...3D tvs, bitcoin, cloud, DRM, 3 hour long games...Do these companies really think its a good long term plan for their company?I mean, sure it might work for a while, but eventually you WILL lose your customers.They are ignoring the most basic rules of sale/marketing:-Dont insult your customers by taking the for idiots.-Dont sell something if you know people wont buy more from you.And for the love of god, dont ignore your customers: when they say "WE WANT X"Give them X, not your vision of X.How can these companies be so.... (FacePalm).
  • 1 Hide
    gnodeb , February 5, 2014 3:13 AM
    I think that for end consumers, Cloud is nothing but marketing gimmick. It's obvious that Some of you thinks that Cloud is FTP server for fancy FTP clients (like SkyDrive, GoogleDrive, DropBox...). People who knows the difference between FTP/HTTP servers and Cloud will not talk about storage and certainly will not talk about privacy...
  • 1 Hide
    AndrewJacksonZA , February 5, 2014 5:41 AM
    Quote:
    Because the shareholders know that they are pretty much Doomed without him.
    Obligatory link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KN0K58EfJSg
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