Ballmer Clarified

July 28, 2013

I’ve been trying to read Steve Ballmer’s rambling missive on Microsoft’s reorg without falling asleep, and finally made it after the third try. While there were moments of clarity in the letter, they were obscured by corporate-speak and bizarre, meandering asides.

I wondered: How would this letter look if we took out all the non-essentials? Well, here’s my attempt.


From: Steve Ballmer
To: Microsoft - All Employees
Date: July 11, 2013, 6 a.m.
Subject: One Microsoft

Today, we are announcing a reorganization.

This company has always had a big vision: to help people realize their full potential. In the earliest days, it was by putting a PC on every desk and in every home. We’ve come farther than we could have imagined. The impact we have made in the world is undeniable. I am inspired when new hires say they chose Microsoft because they want to change the world.

We will continue to focus on creating devices and services that help people and companies around the world do what they value most.

We will do this by drawing on our strengths. Our software have powered devices like Windows PC and Xbox. Our Office apps improve productivity. Windows Server and Exchange help enterprises run better. We will offer more devices and services and fewer packaged software, but we will continue to draw on these strengths.

Although we have delivered great products in the past, we all want to deliver even more great products. To do that, we have to improve the way we work.

We must change to do better. We need to focus on a single strategy. We have to be better at engineering, technology, and other disciplines. And we need to work better together toward our common goal.

We must support a single strategy, not a collection of divisional strategies. We must look at all product lines as a whole. We must build an integrated experience across all our products.

We must speak to our customers and partners with one voice. Our marketing must reflect the fact that we are a single company with products that work together.

Changes to the Organization

We must plan across the company to help our products and services work better together. This means we need to organize the company by function: Engineering, Advanced Strategy and Research, Marketing, Operations, Business Development and Evangelism, Finance, Legal, and Human Resources.

Engineering will be divided into four areas, plus Dynamics.

The Operating Systems Engineering Group will be led by Terry Myerson. This group will be responsible for all OS work, including consoles, mobile devices, PCs and servers.

The Devices and Studios Engineering Group will be led by Julie Larson-Green. This group will be responsible for hardware development and supply chain management for all the devices we build. In addition, Julie will be responsible for our studio experiences, including games, music, video, and other entertainment.

The Application and Services Engineering Group will be led by Qi Lu. This group will be responsible for developing applications and services for productivity, communication, search, and other categories.

The Cloud and Enterprise Engineering Group will be led by Satya Nadella. This group will be responsible for “back-end” technologies, like data center, database, and enterprise development tools. Satya will also lead the development, construction, and operation of our data centers.

The Dynamics group will continue to be led by Kirill Tatarinov. However, his product leaders will also report to Qi Lu, his marketing leader will also report to Tami Reller, and his sales leader will also report to the Operations group.

The Advanced Strategy and Research Group will be led by Eric Rudder. This group will focus on the intersection of technology and policy, and guide the company as we look at new technology trends.

The Marketing Group will be led by Tami Reller. Mark Penn will lead with Tami on our broad marketing strategy.

Kevin Turner will continue to be the Chief Operations Officer. His team will continue to be responsible for worldwide sales, marketing, services, support and stores, as well as IT, licensing, and commercial operations.

The Business Development and Evangelism Group will be led by Tony Bates. This group will focus on our development partners and developers. OEM relations will remain in the Sales, Marketing, and Support Group (SMSG) under Kevin Turner, who will also report to Tony, and work with Nick Parker on key OEM relationships.

The Finance Group will be led by Amy Hood. This group will be responsible for the finances of all product groups. SMSG finance will report to Kevin Turner, who will also report to Amy.

The Legal and Corporate Affairs Group will be led by Brad Smith as General Counsel.

The Human Resources Group will be led by Lisa Brummel.

Kurt DelBene will be retiring from Microsoft. Kurt has been a huge part of the success in turning Office into a great cloud service, and a key member of my leadership team. I can’t thank him enough for the work he has done for the company, and I will truly miss him.

Craig Mundie will be leaving the senior leadership team to work on a special project for me until the end of this year. After that, Craig will continue as a consultant until the end of 2014.

Rick Rashid will step down from running Microsoft Research and join the Operating Systems Group. Rick created MSR, the most amazing computer science research institution in the world, and we owe him so much for that. It is exciting to have Rick return to his roots in OS.

How We Work

How we work together will characterize the new Microsoft. We must pay attention to process and culture.

With respect to process: Each major product or project initiative will have a team that works across functional groups, and a champion who will report directly to me or one of my direct reports. While the champion will be responsible for leading a cross-company team for the initiative, my whole staff will commit to the initiative’s success.

Culturally, our core values don’t change, but how we express them must evolve.

Nimble. The schedules for product releases, customer interaction, and competitive response are dramatically shorter today. We need to make the right decisions more quickly. Each employee must solve problems more quickly, and with more real time data.

Communicative. We must communicate in ways that goes beyond exchanging information, but lead the participants to ownership, action, and accountability.

Decisive. As a global company with billions of customers, we must have a clear strategy, but empower employees closest to the customers to make decisions. This is tricky, but it is important for productivity, growth, and customer satisfaction.

Motivated. In our industry, every day brings more challenges and more opportunities than the day before. But we have a unique chance to make the lives of billions of people better in fundamental ways. This should inspire all of us: those who love making products and services, those who love engaging with customers, and those who love planning and running our company in the most effective way possible. We want people who get up each morning excited to make Microsoft better. That’s how we will come closer to helping people around the world fulfill their potential.

A Unique Opportunity

We have created great products, but we all want more. That means we need a strategy to deliver products and services that let people do what they value most. It means a new structure to bring these products and services to market more quickly. It means a new way of working together. In short: One Microsoft, all the time.

There are incredible new opportunities across Microsoft. As devices become more integrated into everyday life, we have to create extraordinary experiences for our customers on these devices. We will reinvent the experience of creating and consuming documents, and what it means to communicate at home or at work. We will raise the experience of entertainment, to blur the line between reality and fantasy. We will support our developers with the simplest ways to create apps or cloud services and integrate them with our products. We will help businesses manage ever-increasing amounts of information. These are our priorities.

There are a lot of changes ahead. But many things will stay the same: our incredible people, our spirit, our commitment, our belief in the transformative power of technology—our Microsoft technology—to make the world a better place for billions of people and millions of businesses around the world. It’s why I come to work inspired every day. It’s why we’ve evolved before, and why we’re evolving now. Because we’re not done.

Let’s go.



It’s still somewhat rambling—I would have edited this memo down far more aggressively—but I did want to keep the general flow of the original.

How did I do? Tweet me at .

Update: a friend of mine summarized this even more: “Hi everybody, I’m changing things around so we’re just like Apple. Also, I’m firing some people.” Perfect.