#stephen elop

Peter Burrows & Dina Bass:

Stephen Elop, a candidate to replace Steve Ballmer as Microsoft Corp.’s chief executive officer, would consider breaking with decades of tradition by focusing the company’s strategy around making the popular Office software programs like Word, Excel and PowerPoint available on a broad variety of smartphones and tablets, including those made by Apple Inc. and Google Inc., said three people with knowledge of his thinking.

Elop would probably move away from Microsoft’s strategy of using these programs to drive demand for its flagship Windows operating system on personal computers and mobile devices, said the people, who asked not to be identified because the 49-year-old executive hasn’t finalized or publicly discussed his analysis of the business. Most of Microsoft’s software has been tied to running on Windows.

More fascinating than the story is the story behind it (and the reaction to it). Is this Elop (or his camp) leaking this information in an attempt to test the waters for some bold moves if he becomes CEO? Is it Elop (or his camp) leaking it to appeal to the hedge funds pressuring Microsoft to really shake things up? Or is it someone else leaking it in an attempt to torpedo Elop’s chances of becoming CEO?

Whoa nelly. A few quick thoughts:

1) Inevitable.

2) This seems to take the drama out of the Microsoft CEO search. Nokia CEO Stephen Elop (a former Microsoftie) was already widely considered a leading contender — and now Microsoft has 7.2 billion more reasons to go with him. It also seems likely he would be a good candidate to carry out the “One Microsoft” initiative that Steve Ballmer has already put in place.

3) Fairly big demotion for Julie Larson-Green following her big promotion just last year. Unless… see: #2.

4) So why not just announce Elop as the new CEO now? Because the deal won’t close until Q1 2014. The biggest potential hiccup there is Nokia shareholders approving it.

5) From a pure dollar perspective, this seems to be quite the deal from what Microsoft was rumored to be considering paying just a few years ago.

6) Though it’s not nearly as good of a deal as Apple got to bring Steve Jobs back on board — $400 million in 1996 dollars.

7) Microsoft is taking on 32,000 new employees?!

8) It’s actually a pretty decent use of overseas cash, which would otherwise be taxed if repatriated.

9) Lighting the money on fire would have also saved it from being taxed.