Elop became president of Microsoft's Business Division in 2008, coming from a COO position at Juniper Networks. His new position back at Microsoft will place him as head of an expanded Devices team, putting him in charge of another potential candidate, Julie Larson-Green, executive vice president of Microsoft's Devices and Services group, according to a memo circulated among Microsoft employees. Elop will report directly to CEO Ballmer.
"This puts Elop in a much better position. I think Steve Ballmer would like Elop," said Jeff Kagan, an independent technology analyst.
Since joining Nokia in 2010 as CEO, Elop, or "Stephen Eflop" as some called him, struggled to revive the failing mobile company through layoffs and cuts to R&D, and purchased Siemens AG for $2.2 billion. While he managed to lessen some of the losses under his leadership, Elop watched as Nokia mobile phones fell to only 3 percent of market share.
However, given Microsoft's position with services across many different platforms, Jack Narcotta, analyst at Technology Business Research, said that it is unlikely that the board will choose him as CEO. Narcotta said that Elop has certainly established himself as a viable candidate, but he doubts that he is a shoe-in for the position.
"It certainly seems like a good fit," Narcotta said. "[However], it's fundamentally a different company than when he left and that does present a whole other set of challenges."
Instead, Narcotta said that he thinks that Microsoft is getting all of its ducks aligned for a stable future before moving forward on its short list of candidates for the job.
"Ultimately, I think what's important now, when a company is undergoing a fundamental transition, at this point, at least outlining the plan gives comfort while the road ahead is still a little rocky," Narcotta said. "Now, ultimately, who is going to lead the charge of the whole company [is still uncertain], but ultimately what gives the customers some comfort is that there is a plan set for the future."
PUBLISHED SEPT. 3, 2013