Cultivating more consumers who buy more, more often, & tell their friends!
Microsoft seems to be at an unusually critical inflection point now. What they do in choosing their next CEO will go a long way to determining what they will be in the future; even more than leadership changes at most companies.
Choosing a "manager" - like the Ford CEO they are considering; someone who knows how to run big companies - to me will indicate that they are pretty much done being an innovative technology leader - to the degree that they hang onto that patina now. It will mean that the Microsoft board is resigned to trying to simply sustain the existing income streams for as long as they can.
Choosing a 68 year old 'car guy' will represent an admission that Microsoft can't figure out a compelling place for itself in the internet world, despite the fact that they are largely responsible for creating the context that brought that world into existence.
Of course I don't have any inside information that would critically inform this decision, but if I were on the board, with this CEO hire, I imagine I'd be pushing to bring in a compelling vision. I'd be looking for someone who can envision the future and a meaningful role that Microsoft can play in it. Relatively speaking, big company execs who can run a huge bureaucracy are a dime a dozen. Yes, its a huge and complex job, but its an even bigger job to re-imagine Microsoft. Obviously, neither Bill Gates nor Steve Ballmer could do it.