Elop to lead Microsoft’s Devices & Services group, Larson-Green to step down

Stephen Elop, the former Nokia CEO, will be taking over as head of Microsoft’s Devices & Studios group, which will includes all hardware (Xbox, Surface, Nokia devices) when the Nokia acquisition closes sometime this quarter. The current head of that group is Julie Larson-Green.

When the announcement of the Nokia acquisition came out in September, I wondered if Microsoft would break the hardware group into two parts, with Larson-Green running Studios:

Microsoft buys Nokia Devices and Services, Elop is EVP of Devices

Microsoft has announced that it will be buying Nokia’s devices and services business and various patents for $7.17 billion, and that CEO Stephen Elop (shown at right)  is rejoining Microsoft as head of Microsoft Devices. (I presume that means that Julie Larson-Green, recently moved to EVP of Devices and Studios in the recent reorg, will now be head only of Studios, which means Xbox and related game software.)

That was the ‘spin out Xbox’ side of my brain speaking, however. It’s seems that Satya Nadella, the new CEO of Microsoft, is not planning for that eventuality as of yet.

Larson-Green is assuming a new role for her, as Chief Experience Officer (CXO) for the My LIfe & Work group (Bing, Office, and Skype), reporting to Qi Lu, the EVP of Applications and Services group. That is also the group where Elisa Steele was leading marketing activities, before she took the job as CMO and EVP of Strategy for Jive Software (see Elisa Steele assumes new role as Jive’s EVP of Strategy and CMO).

This is effectively a sidelining from EVP status the only female exec leading a product group at Microsoft. The other three female execs lead marketing, HR, and finance.

I wouldn’t be surprised to learn that Larson-Green becomes CEO of some fast rising software or hardware firm by the end of the year. In the email she sent out announcing the change inside of Microsoft, she wrote,

As I look to the future, I’m reminded of a favorite Chinese proverb: “To get through the hardest journey we need take only one step at a time, but we must keep on stepping.”

That doesn’t sound like this is all sunshine and flowers for her.

Returning to Elop, he is going to soon be managing Nokia and other hardware for the company, including Microsoft’s first Android phones (see Hands on with the Android-powered Nokia X smartphone).

Are we going to hear about an Android Surface in the near term? Is Microsoft starting to back away from a vision of continued Windows dominance, and a gradual realization of the impossibility of displacing iOS and Android in mobile?