Microsoft confirms Nadella as CEO

Microsoft announced Tuesday that Satya Nadella will indeed take on the role of chief executive officer at the software company effective immediately. The company’s founder Bill Gates will also be stepping down as chairman to assume a more hands-on role on the board as a technology advisor.

Nadella joined Microsoft in 1992 from Sun Microsystems and helped spearhead major technical shifts within the organisation; he was intimately involved with its transformation into a full blown cloud services provider and headed up the server and cloud businesses.

“Microsoft is one of those rare companies to have truly revolutionized the world through technology, and I couldn’t be more honoured to have been chosen to lead the company,” Nadella said.

“The opportunity ahead for Microsoft is vast, but to seize it, we must focus clearly, move faster and continue to transform. A big part of my job is to accelerate our ability to bring innovative products to our customers more quickly,” he added.

Microsoft’s outgoing chief executive officer Steve Ballmer said Nadella is “the right leader at the right time.”

“I’ve had the distinct privilege of working with the most talented employees and senior leadership team in the industry, and I know their passion and hunger for greatness will only grow stronger under Satya’s leadership,” Ballmer said.

The company also announced that Bill Gates, previously chairman of the board of directors, will assume a new role on the board as founder and technology advisor.

Microsoft said Gates will devote more time to the company, “supporting Nadella in shaping technology and product direction.” John Thompson, lead independent director for the Board of Directors, will assume the role of chairman while remaining an independent director as previously reported.

Bill Gates, who founded the company in 1975 welcomed Nadella’s appointment, praising his “hard-core” engineering skills and business vision as essential for Microsoft within an industry in the throes of rapid change.

“His vision for how technology will be used and experienced around the world is exactly what Microsoft needs as the company enters its next chapter of expanded product innovation and growth,” Gates said.

The appointment ends months of speculation surrounding who would ultimately be chosen to replace Steve Ballmer and lead the company as it makes a transition from a predominately software-focused business to a “software plus services” company.

Others tipped for the role over the past six months included former Nokia CEO and current Microsoft VP of devices & services Stephen Elop, Ford CEO Alan Mulally, and Microsoft EVP and Skype division president Tony Bates.

By most accounts Nadella will have a difficult task ahead of him.

Beyond securing Microsoft a space among the biggest cloud service providers with Azure and Office365 among other offerings, Nadella will also need to divert attention away from, and reverse, a series of flops that include Microsoft’s foray in the tablet space, and the Windows 8 (and 8.1) operating system.

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