Steve Ballmer's successor will have to do plenty to revitalize Microsoft. Here's what should be at the top of his list: Stopping the company's unhealthy reliance on Windows as the centerpiece of almost everything it does.
Microsoft has long relied on Windows to bully competitors and push its way into new markets. It was a technique perfected by Bill Gates, and helped the company gain a dominant browser share, as well as put an end to the dominance of competing productivity software including WordPerfect, Lotus 1-2-3, and Harvard Graphics. Steve Ballmer as CEO simply continued on the path set by Bill Gates.
But it's been years since the strategy worked. By relying on it, Microsoft has fallen far behind in Internet search and mobile computing.
That's why Microsoft needs to finally end its reliance on Windows. And with a new CEO coming onboard, now is the perfect time to do that.
The first thing a new CEO should do is release versions of Office for Android tablets and the iPad as quickly as possible. Microsoft is holding out on doing that because it hopes that if Windows tablets can run Office but its competitors can't, that will give Microsoft an edge in tablets.
We've seen how that's turning out: Dismal sales of Microsoft's tablets, including a $900 million writedown on unsold Surface RT tablets.