Can Ford's CEO Save Microsoft?

Can Ford's CEO Save Microsoft?

Microsoft may be announcing an organizational restructuring as early as Thursday, and All Things D's Kara Swisher is hearing that Ford CEO Alan Mulally may have helped steer Microsoft's Steve Ballmer through the process.

Don't worry, Ford fans. Mulally isn't trading in hard wears for software. Insiders are merely telling Swisher that Microsoft's CEO consulted with Mulally -- who has experience at turning big companies around -- for ideas on how to restructure the meandering software titan.

It wouldn't be a shock to see Microsoft's organizational chart go under the knife. Things haven't exactly gone the tech bellwether's way lately.

  • Last year's rollout of Windows 8 was supposed to breathe new life into the PC market. It didn't.

  • The introduction of Windows RT and the Surface RT tablet were supposed to give the software giant some serious skin in the growing realm of cheap computing devices. It didn't.

  • Windows Phone 8 hit the market late last year, and despite Microsoft's proactive approach of paying app developers and at least one major handset manufacturer to champion the mobile operating system, it hasn't made a dent in the iOS and Android stronghold.

Then we had the poorly received introduction -- in the eyes of gamers -- of the Xbox One gaming console during last month's E3 conference. It may not be a coincidence that the Xbox president left the company last week, possibly ahead of Thursday's game of music chairs that will likely leave some executives either demoted or left out.

Why Mulally? Well, as Swisher explains, Ballmer's a big admirer of Mulally, even penning the entry on Ford's turnaround guru in the Time 100 list four years ago. Ballmer also was born in Detroit, where his father was a Ford manager.

Ford and Microsoft have also teamed up for dashboard technology in the past. The two companies rolled out the now-popular SYNC digital entertainment system in Ford cars six years ago. Ford went on to lean on more popular mobile platforms a few years later, but Ford is no stranger to tech. Mulally has been a fixture in the past as a presenter at the annual Consumer Electronics Show and other tech events.

Mulally has been instrumental in turning both Ford and Boeing around, so he knows all about approaching stodgy companies that need fresh perspectives to reverse their meandering ways.

Microsoft may not seem broken. It's still growing, and the shares hit a fresh multiyear high last month. However, it's hard to find too many people that are excited about Microsoft's long-term prospects. Too many trends are working against the company's core competencies of the past. Naturally the software giant will need to address its failures in mobile -- and soon -- but it may take a corporate shakeup later this week to give it a chance to at least be facing in the right direction ahead of what promises to be a very difficult transition.

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Longtime Fool contributor Rick Munarriz owns shares of Ford. The Motley Fool recommends Ford. The Motley Fool owns shares of Ford and Microsoft. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

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