Microsoft's Windows OS could be forced to take a back seat to its Office products if hotly tipped Ballmer successor Stephen Elop gets his way, according to reports.
Bloomberg cited multiple sources au fait with the former Nokia boss's thoughts as saying that if he were to be crowned the next Microsoft chief executive, he would sideline Windows and instead work on pushing Office out on multiple operating systems.
The sources said that Elop would focus on making Office software such as Word, Excel and PowerPoint available on a much wider variety of devices, including those of rivals Apple and Google.
Instead of using Office as a tool to boost Windows adoption, it would use the productivity suite itself to boost its coffers.
Windows' non-GAAP sales slumped six per cent annually in the final quarter of 2013 and one per cent for its full fiscal year which ended in the summer.
After Microsoft acquired Nokia, Elop resigned as the latter's chief and said he would become head of a new devices unit at the software giant after the deal closes. But he is strongly rumoured to be next in line for Ballmer's job after he announced his retirement as chief executive earlier this year.
Elop's rumoured focus on Office may not come as a surprise as prior to his Nokia role he led the vendor's Office division. Microsoft has been keen to push its new strategy of becoming a devices and services firm, and when Ballmer announced his imminent departure from the hot seat, he said the company shift meant it was a good time for a new leader.
Just last week, reports circulated that the shortlist for his successor was slashed, leaving Elop, Ford boss Alan Mulally and former Skype chief Tony Bates in the running along with its current cloud and enterprise head Satya Nadella.
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