As had been widely rumored and expected, Microsoft's new CEO is Satya Nadella. He previously headed up the company's Cloud and Enterprise group. The change is effective as of today.
Nadella has been with Microsoft for over two decades, and has recently been in command of one of its most important divisions. In an email to employees, outgoing CEO Steve Ballmer described Nadella in (understandably, under the circumstances) glowing terms:
Satya is a proven leader. He's got strong technical skills and great business insights. He has a remarkable ability to see what's going on in the market, to sense opportunity, and to really understand how we come together at Microsoft to execute against those opportunities in a collaborative way. I have worked closely with Satya for many years and I have seen these skills many times. He is not alone, though. Our Senior Leadership Team has never been stronger, and together this group will drive us forward.
— Steven Sinofsky (@stevesi) February 4, 2014
Bill Gates, meanwhile, will step down as Microsoft chairman, and instead become a "technology adviser." Presumably he'll continue devoting most of his time to his charitable efforts.
Nadella becomes the third CEO in Microsoft's history, and takes over at a time when the company faces unique challenges, particularly in the incredibly important mobile arena. But if you're curious why he was the right man for the job, his vision of the future of computing—as outlined in his first email as CEO to the staff—shows that he's very aware of the playing field, and Microsoft's place on it:
I believe over the next decade computing will become even more ubiquitous and intelligence will become ambient. The coevolution of software and new hardware form factors will intermediate and digitize — many of the things we do and experience in business, life and our world. This will be made possible by an ever-growing network of connected devices, incredible computing capacity from the cloud, insights from big data, and intelligence from machine learning...
We must zero in on what Microsoft can uniquely contribute to the world. The opportunity ahead will require us to reimagine a lot of what we have done in the past for a mobile and cloud-first world, and do new things.
We are the only ones who can harness the power of software and deliver it through devices and services that truly empower every individual and every organization. We are the only company with history and continued focus in building platforms and ecosystems that create broad opportunity.
Whether that last bit is true is up for some debate; there are plenty of companies who would claim that they build platforms and ecosystems for everyone. But what's undeniably true is that Microsoft—and Nadella, specifically—has spent decades laying the groundwork for success. Whether they can elevate it to the cloud and beyond will be their biggest challenge going forward.[Microsoft]