According to sources at AllThingsD, Microsoft is poised to make major changes to its executive team, cutting the fat from the top and reorganizing the company into four distinct parts — operating systems, applications & services, hardware, and enterprise — overseen by Steve Ballmer.
The company is holding its annual Build developer conference later this week, which coincides with a public launch of Windows 8.1, the first major update for the new operating system which was released in late October.
One virulent rumour to emerge from this department shuffle is the unification of Windows and Windows Phone into a single division, something that was seen as inevitable given the former’s dominance and the latter’s sustained obscurity. Windows Phone 8 brought a unified kernel, which made it easier to develop apps and games for both platforms at once, but the operating systems maintain separate app stores and update processes. Windows Phone also suffers from the fact that it entered a market entrenched by two dominant players, and has struggled, despite a warm reception, to gain market share, especially in North America.
Microsoft is likely going to issue updates to its Surface RT and Pro tablets later this year, informed by the improvements made to Windows 8.1. Rumours persist of a smaller, cheaper Surface, likely in the 7- to 8-inch form factor, to better compete with the iPad mini. The Redmond-based company has recently been discounting its RT tablet, which runs an ARM-based Tegra 3 chip and is limited to apps distributed through the Windows Store, to spur lukewarm sales.
Microsoft is expected to issue a minor update Windows Phone 8 this summer with a more extensive “GDR3″ overhaul coming later this year, which would bring 1080p display and quad-core chip support. Nokia will likely announce its Lumia 41MP EOS smartphone next month with the GDR2 update on board.