Satya Nadella named new Microsoft CEO; Bill Gates steps down as chairman

BY Joshua Barajas  February 4, 2014 at 10:54 AM EST

Microsoft Corp. on Tuesday named 47-year-old Satya Nadella, the company’s enterprise and cloud chief, as the new chief executive, ending a five-month search to replace Steve Ballmer who has been serving as CEO since 2000.

Bill Gates, will also step down as chairman, a position he’s held since 1981, to assist Nadella as a “technology advisor.” Board member John Thompson will take over as chairman.

In a promotional video about Nadella, Gates said that the change would increase the time he spends at the company.

“I’ll have over a third of my time available to meet with product groups, and it’ll be fun to define this next round of products working together,” he said.

Nadella’s transition as Microsoft’s third CEO in 38 years follows a year that saw the worst decline in PC shipments, the Los Angeles Times reported. With signs of PC sales slowing — PC sales dropped by 10 percent last year — Nadella sees the future of the $300-billion company to be in devices and services.

NPR points to Nadella’s December interview with Quartz about his vision to “complete the scenario” for the customer:

“I think reconceptualizing Microsoft as a devices and services company is absolutely what our vision is all about. Office 365 and Azure on the services side are representative of it. Does that mean we won’t have our software available for other people to build on? No. Windows is available outside of our devices. Windows server is available outside of our data centers. We think that’s important because there will always be distributed computing. But at the same time, there is also the customer expectations that we should complete the scenario. That means running a cloud platform, running a cloud service. So were conceptualizing the future of Microsoft along those pivots.”-Satya Nadella

In his first letter to Microsoft employees on Tuesday, the 22-year veteran Nadella said they needed to make sure “Microsoft thrives in a mobile and cloud-first world.”

Wired reports that, with Nadella taking the helm, the company isn’t moving away from the mobile market, which Apple and Google dominates, but looking to pursue another part of computing’s future.

“[T]he choice of Nadella is a statement that, in the coming years, cloud computing will be a more crucial field to dominate,” Wired writes. “After all, cloud services ultimately feed the mobile as well as the gaming world, providing a way for software developers and businesses to build and host and operate the mobile applications that run on a world of smartphones and tablets.”