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Microsoft to drive Windows tablet strategy with smaller devices, OS rebates

Gregg Keizer | April 22, 2013
Microsoft's chief financial officer yesterday confirmed that the company and its hardware partners would ship smaller, lower-priced Windows tablets in the next months.

Klein also announced yesterday that he would leave Microsoft at the end of the fiscal year, which wraps up June 30. Microsoft will fill the CFO position internally, the company said.

Some commentators have seen Klein as the scapegoat for Windows 8's lackluster sales. But Rob Helm, analyst with Directions on Microsoft, wasn't buying it.

"Not everything comes down to the CFO," said Helm. "Microsoft's problems stem from the fundamentals of the Windows business rather than what a finance wiz can do or does."

Helm credited Klein, along with Kevin Turner, Microsoft's COO, with instituting cuts in operating costs last year. "You have to give them credit for squeezing operating costs enough to do Surface," said Helm.

Whomever Microsoft promotes -- the company said it would find its next CFO from within its current financial leadership team in the next several weeks -- he or she will not have it easy, Helm warned.

"This will be just as tough for the new person as it was for Klein," Helm said, talking about Microsoft's stated intention to shift from a Windows-dependent business to one devoted to devices like the Surface and services such as Office 365. "The new CFO will have to deal with changes at Microsoft to how it makes money and how much it makes," said Helm.

Klein joined Microsoft in 2002, led the financial efforts of the Business division -- one of the company's biggest money makers -- and stepped into the CFO role in 2009.


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