Microsoft chooses cloud and enterprise head Satya Nadella as third CEO

Microsoft has officially named Steve Ballmer's successor: Satya Nadella. Now the third CEO in the company's history, he most recently has led Redmond's efforts in the cloud and enterprise space. With 22 years at the company, Nadella is certainly not the outsider many predicted would take over the role. But the board, including co-founder Bill Gates himself, believe that he's just the man to lead Microsoft into the future. His success in pushing the platform-agnostic Office 365, in addition to both consumer-facing and enterprise cloud solutions, bodes well for a company who has seen its bread-and-butter products of Windows and Office struggle in the post PC world.

The naming of Nadella as CEO represents something of a return to its roots for Microsoft. While Gates ultimately proved to have solid business instincts, he was at heart a computer nerd (for lack of a better term). Ballmer, on the other hand, was a student of economics and an MBA dropout. Nadella received degrees in electrical engineering and computer science before eventually moving on to the University of Chicago's MBA program.

[Image credit: Microsoft]

As part of the transition, Gates will be returning to a larger role at Microsoft as technology advisor, though it's doubtful he'll be involved in day-to-day decision-making. As part of that move, John Thompson (former Symantec CEO and lead independent director of the board at Microsoft) will be taking over as chairman. According to Gates, it was Nadella himself who asked him to "step up" his presence at the company and become more involved with guiding the various product groups. The goal for both men will be to overcome the obvious challenges facing the technology stalwart. If we're feeling generous, we'd call Windows Phone a modest success. And while 365 is certainly no slouch, it's still playing catch up to the giant of the cloud productivity space, Google. But its most recent earnings report gives reason to hope that Microsoft is slowly becoming the devices and services giant it hopes to be.

Below you'll find a video message from Gates, as well as Nadella's first interview as CEO. And, if you're interested, the first letter from Nadella to his new employees can be found here.