Former Nokia CEO Stephen Elop, if named as the next Microsoft CEO, would reportedly consider spinning off the company's Xbox and Bing divisions. A report from Bloomberg cites sources familiar with Elop's thinking in claiming that he would strike out in a direction quite different from that of outgoing CEO Steve Ballmer. Under Elop, the report holds, Microsoft would refocus on its popular Office suite, but with the aim of pushing Office onto as many platforms as possible.
That shift would result in Office landing on devices running Apple's iOS and Google's Android. The sources claim that Elop would abandon Microsoft's current strategy of using Office to prop up its struggling Windows 8 platform, which has seen difficulties in attracting consumer interest.
Reportedly, Elop sees more value in Microsoft maximizing sales of Office across the predominant platforms. To date, Microsoft has hinted at the possibility of Office on iOS and Android, and previous rumors have pegged the productivity suite for a cross-platform debut in 2014. The company has remained non-committal on the idea, though, as it attempts to expand the base for Windows 8 and Windows RT devices.
That reluctance to open up Office to other platforms is thought to have hurt Microsoft's standing. The Office productivity suite is still the default throughout the enterprise sector, but competitors have made up ground. Google is continually improving its Google Drive productivity offerings, striving toward a comparable, if not equal, free alternative to Office. That suite is built into Google's Android platform, which is quickly becoming the most popular operating system in the world.
Meanwhile, Apple took a swipe at Microsoft with the release of iOS 7, noting that its iWork and iLife software would be free with the purchase of a new iOS device. That development could cut down significantly on any potential desire for Microsoft's offerings on iOS devices.
Aside from expanding Office's reach, Elop is also said to be prepared to sell or shut down other Microsoft arms in order to increase its focus. Reportedly, Elop would consider shutting down or spinning off Microsoft's Bing search engine, which is the second-most popular search engine in the United States, but still a far cry from the market share of Google.
Additionally, Elop could look to shut down the company's Xbox game console division. This division has lost Microsoft billions of dollars over the years, but it has positioned the company as a major player in the coming battle for the consumer living room. The Xbox division's overall success in terms of mindshare, if not profitability, is said to be the thing that keeps that arm off the chopping block in Elop's mind.
Elop, of course, has not secured the top spot at Microsoft. The former Nokia chief is but one among five candidates said to be on the shortlist for CEO. Alongside Elop are Ford CEO Alan Mulally, Oracle president Mark Hurd, former Skype CEO Tony Bates, and Satya Nadella. Current CEO Steve Ballmer has said that he will retire within the next nine months or so, meaning that one of those names will likely very soon step into the lead role.