10 changes Steve Ballmer should make at Microsoft

From an open source project to not swatting at the competition, ten directions Ballmer should consider steering Microsoft in the post-Gates era

6. Engineer a smooth transition to Windows 7. After the Vista debacle (and by extension the XP fiasco), it's hard to imagine things getting much worse, but demonstrate a willingness to let customers upgrade at their own pace. If companies like SAP are able to offer feature packages to customers rather than demand an ERP overall, Microsoft should be able to do the same thing with its operating system.

7. Partner where it counts. Microsoft's agreement with Novell was supposed to usher in a new era of interoperability. That may have happened for Suse Linux customers (although there's not a lot of proof yet), but what about more popular distributions like Red Hat? They've held out so far, but Ballmer should be working hard to change their minds.

8. Iron out your acquisition approach. Too much attention has been focused on the buyout of Yahoo and not enough on what Microsoft is doing with the firms it actually managed to purchase. This includes Fast Search and Transfer. We should be seeing the beginnings of a new enterprise search strategy from Microsoft by now. Where is it?

9. Get friendly with the social networking crowd. So what if Microsoft invested in Facebook? Microsoft should be developing for Facebook, just like all the other ISVs that want some exposure to an often technically savvy audience. Imagine if Microsoft created something that make social networking easier, safer or easier to integrate with its applications. That would change a lot of people's perceptions about its laggard approach to the Internet.

10. Don't give up on spam. Bill Gates predicted the world would be free of the unsolicited e-mail scourge by 2006. Microsoft had the talent to deliver, and still has. Ballmer would make a considerable mark at Microsoft, and within the IT industry in general, if he could marshal he resources to make good on his predecessor's promise.

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Shane Schick

ComputerWorld Canada
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