Microsoft CEO Nadella should be questioning Bill Gates’ credentials as ‘technology advisor’

“The news of Gates returning to be more actively involved at Microsoft as part of Ballmer stepping down and Satya Nadella stepping up had been niggling at me for a while until I managed to place my concerns,” Matt Baxter-Reynolds writes for ZDNet. “One aspect — actually not my biggest concern, I’ll get to that — is this strange implication that Satya Nadella somehow needs handholding.”

“Even in his own email on his first day as CEO, he says: ‘I’ve asked Bill to devote additional time to the company, focused on technology and products,'” Baxter-Reynolds writes. There’s a thread running through the closing days of this transition which sounds very much like Microsoft believes Bill somehow needs to ‘save’ them. Why does Nadella need this help?”

“We know that Gates has been putting his effort into the Gates Foundation since he stepped down as full-time CEO in June 2008. But we also know he’s been involved in the company he founded since that time. So for nearly six years, he still has been involved. He has still been influencing the products,” Baxter-Reynolds writes. “To remind you of what Nadella said, he wants help from Gates on products.”

“If I were Nadella and Gates asked me if he could be my ‘technology advisor,’ I’d be questioning his credentials,” Baxter-Reynolds writes. “Where’s the evidence of the killer competence on the non-enterprise-IT side that’s evident on the enterprise-IT-side? We know that Microsoft is essentially hopeless on consumer products. You can argue against that statement as much as you like, the fact remains that how, where, what, and why people use computers has changed over the past six years… So what’s the deal? Does the Nadella+Gates combo mean that Microsoft is going to focus on enterprise IT, work on just that core business, and keep it safe?”

Read more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: Perhaps Microsoft’s “plan” is to just give up on consumer products and focus on the enterprise – although the billions Microsoft just blew on Nokia seems to says exactly the opposite – but it had better be the enterprise back-end because the BYOD trend is only accelerating, Microsoft has zero momentum, and one guy (Mired) plus a rather myopic (Tired) part-timer (“Oops, I missed The Internet!” “Tablets will require a stylus and will be based on handwriting recognition”) both of whom have precious little background in successfully developing the type of products that actual people want to buy and use today.

Even if Microsoft focuses on the enterprise, the new blood enterprise IT guy is more than likely going to be (or already is) an Apple guy/gal or, if he/she’s particularly confused (or looking for some job security as a constant fixer/emergency malware responder à la Windows), an Android settler, not an antique Microsoft drone.

[Thanks to MacDailyNews Reader “dslarsen” for the heads up.]


  1. How pathetic! Microsoft needs a visionary, not a sycophant. It’s looking like this guy brings absolutely nothing to the table. Gates is no Steve Jobs, so I have no idea what he can bring to resurrect the lame performance we’ve seen at Microsoft over the past several years.

    They’re more known these days for failed products and initiatives than anything else. I give this guy one year before he’s shown the door. They’d be better off sticking with the sweaty monkey.

    1. Your assessment of Satya Nadella seems unfair to me, especially when you say, “They’d be better off sticking with the sweaty monkey.” Nadella is undoubtedly better than Ballmer (who isn’t?) and deserves a grade period in which to attempt to turn Microsoft around from its decades-long policies. It is far too quick to judge Nadella, especially in such a harsh fashion.

    1. The days are gone where Bill could negotiate a tricky key contract or two into a position of dominance.

      Consumers are not dumb and get smarter with each flop they buy and then insist on the best they can afford next time.

      Respect for the “old dog” when we are in a new era is not going to save MS from itself.

  2. You only have to watch the video of Bill Gates, wearing his “Grandad Maroon Sweater”, welcoming Satya Nadella to realise that Gates is of the wrong generation and is the wrong fit – and sartorially challenged in a really, really tasteless sort of way.

    Given Gates can’t even dress imaginatively, what hope as MS’s new ‘technology advisor’ looking into the future, relating to and engaging with tomorrow’s youth with fresh and amazing ideas and products? It’s just not going to happen. Microsoft are finished in the field of mobile technology.

  3. I disagree. I think that Gates should be encouraged to translate his vision into new products and Nadella should enthusiastically build them, lavishly market them and then write off the couple of billion that Bill and he flush down the toilet. That’s the way that Microsoft does things these days and it should be encouraged for as long as it takes.

  4. I think Satya Nadella is a sacrificial lamb. He knows just enough to actually run the company, but not enough to make it prosper. When Microsoft continues on it’s slide down, he will be chopped off as the reason behind the failure and Bill Gates will step up as the saviour ala Jobs. I’m sure he thinks he knows how to do that after “learning” from Steve near the end.
    However, if you see Gates step aside before Nadella, that’s a sign the company is lost. I think Gates sees himself as the one person who can save MS, but doesn’t want to grab the live wire just yet.

  5. Oh another day another jouranalyst. Gosh this guy wrote a book, I know I won’t be buying it.

    Funny how most people have concerns niggling at them until those concerns are addressed or they forget about them but this guy’s concerns appear to be alleviated as soon as he manages to place them. Makes you wonder if this placement involved the removal of a very large butt plug and a substantial amount of lard.

    These concerns are of course along the lines of Satya needs hand holding, Microsoft needs Bill to save them, and the biggest concerns the credentials of Bill Gates as a technology advisor.

    Simple to address these, heck you don’t even have to read the long letter to know that Satya, no doubt a great engineer will get hand holding whether he needs it or not, Microsoft needs a lot more than Bill to save them, and Bill Gates has great credentials as a technology advisor. Not to mention that more than one technology advisor can be hired, and this seems to be another point that the author is missing as he laments, whines and goes on about the early days of the Microsoft Universe.

    Of course as most jouranalysts these days the over inflated super ego is apparent. Microsoft ruled the Universe but the jouranalysts told them how to run it and we can see this here:

    “unless they [Microsoft] understand the sociological forces, they’ll get nowhere”
    This is exactly Bill Gates’ strength, after all it was under his watch that the Embrace, extend and exterminate strategy was developed. No need to say more about a whole list of others, it’s in the history books.

    The author does have a point though, about the phone and mobile world. One solution would be to have another technology advisor, someone who’s renown for his work in the Microsoftian field and who has great experience with mobile phones, mp3 players, and tablets who could also assist Satya in the field and created a powerful Microsoft Triumvirat.

    The good news is that I hear one such candidate might be available.

  6. One of the many things that made Steve effective upon his return was that he was the cofounder. He didn’t yet have any recent “hits” to bolster his resume. But due to his past as a founder and his current positional authority he could cancel projects and fire teams at will, which only increased his power within the company to get things — tough things — done quickly.

    If Bill Gates is there to do the same because Satya doesn’t have the positional authority in the minds of everyone leading teams, then this could honestly help Microsoft. Assuming, of course, that Bill is canceling the bad projects and redirecting engineering effort towards projects that actually meld together well into the direction Bill/Satya see the company needing to go.

    1. No recent ‘hits’? He had just come from work with NeXT (work being done at NeXT included that of Tim Berners Lee, a little project you may of heard of called the world wide web) and Pixar, to name but two.

      On top of that, what is all this revisionist history stating that Microsoft were ever a groundbreaking company? There’s no denying Gates’ business savvy, but Microsoft spent the entirety of Jobs’ second tenure aping Apple’s every move. Windows phone may be the closest they’ve ever come to a product that is truly their own, Gates had already fled the scene of the crime by then.

      I make no claims that Jobs was a saintly figure by any means, but there isn’t any more valid justification for comparison between these two men now than there ever was. Pretty much all Microsoft had on their side was their monopoly.

    2. Jobs new how to take a failure and make it a success. As good as Next OS was, it failed. You could argue that it was ahead of its time. That failure ended up becoming the very successful OS X and iOS. Microsoft has no such thing in their quiver. If tiles and touch are their vision for future success, they are doomed.

      The adoption of their Windows 8 and smart phone is dismal. I don’t see that changing. People have spoken with their pocketbooks, and they’re saying, no thanks.

  7. Gates should be fired as Tech Officer of Microsoft if it takes him and his CEO all day to upgrade his office computer to Windows 8.1.

    I question his credentials as well. The last time Bill Gates the consumer made the news he wrote a column or memo outlining how much of a hassle it was to use Microsoft’s Windows software support website.

    Gates eschewed the experience and demanded an immediate fix.

    How does it feel to be completely ignored Bill?

  8. Every time I walk by a Microsoft Store in the Mall, yea we have one here, I think of it as a big monument to Microsoft’s inability to produce original idea’s.

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