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Perspective: Microsoft's CEO pick will be dubbed a dud, bragged as brilliant

Gregg Keizer | Jan. 2, 2014
History shows that no matter who gets the nod, some of the commentariat will cry foul.

Apotheker was gone in less than a year, fired after a string of disastrous moves — including an announcement that HP might sell off its PC business — that reduced the venerable company's valuation by 40% in just 11 months.

At the time of Apotheker's hiring, commentators were split, with some calling the choice "idiotic," while others said the former SAP CEO was the right move. "I get the feeling he is a brilliant leader," MySQL founder Marten Mickos told Fortune.

"HP needed a tech leader, someone who has run a billion-dollar business, someone who has a global perspective and a software perspective to help the company get more into the software business, and there aren't too many people like that walking the street," said Ray Wang, a partner with technology consulting company Altimeter Group, on news of Apotheker's appointment.

On paper, Apotheker may have checked off those boxes, but once in the chair, he unraveled HP to such a degree that it has yet to recover.

And don't expect the judgments to stop when Microsoft presents its new CEO. Advice for the hire (or promotion) will flood the Web, with analysts, bloggers, pundits — and yes, reporters — chiming in with free, and at times free-from-reality, suggestions or, from the most aggressive, demands for this move or that change, this sell-off or that regime purge.

Those post-appointment opinions may prove as far off the mark as the criticisms of Microsoft's choice.

"They should create Macintosh Inc. as a company that sells software and designs hardware for other companies to make," recommended Brown of Dataquest in 1997, describing his vision for Apple after it bounced Amelio.



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