FORTUNE -- Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer isn't done saying goodbye just yet. After a heartfelt speech to employees late last month, on Monday Ballmer published his final letter to shareholders, taking the opportunity to extoll the company's ongoing "transformation" into a devices and services provider and highlight its key milestones over the last year.
"We brought Windows 8 to the world; we brought consistent user experiences to PCs, tablets, phones and Xbox; and we made important advancements to Windows Server, Windows Azure, Microsoft Dynamics and Office 365," Ballmer wrote in the letter. "We are proud of what we accomplished this year and continue to be passionate about delivering better devices and services more quickly."
Ballmer admitted that Microsoft is still in the "early days" of any kind of turnaround, and while he won't be around to finish carrying out the strategy he laid out last year, he also said he believes the company's best days are still ahead. In late August the outgoing CEO announced he would step down sometime in the next 12 months. Microsoft's (MSFT) board of directors is still searching for a successor, but rumored candidates include Alan Mulally, the current CEO of Ford (F), and Nokia's (NOK) Stephen Elop (Microsoft recently announced it would buy the phonemaker's device business).
Ballmer has made a lot of changes at Microsoft over the last year, including a giant reorg. "... we are well underway in implementing the new organization structure announced in July," Ballmer said in the letter to shareholders. "The teams are working together in new and exciting ways. The key change we made is deceptively simple but profoundly powerful: Instead of organizing our teams around individual products, we've organized by function, including, for example, engineering, sales, marketing and finance. It ensures we have one strategy and work as one team with one set of shared goals."
Last month the CEO made another big move -- shelling out $7.2 billion for Nokia's devices and services business. "This is a signature event in our transformation and will bring together the best mobile device work of Microsoft and Nokia," Ballmer wrote. "It will accelerate our growth with Windows Phone while strengthening our overall device ecosystem and our opportunity."
But it's still not clear how Microsoft plans to integrate the struggling phonemaker -- and how it plans to drive demand for its mobile operating system and phones, even now that it will control the hardware too (Apple (AAPL) and Google (GOOG) control about 86% of the smartphone market; Microsoft's Windows Phone operating system commands a meager 3.7%).
But Ballmer remained upbeat in his letter to shareholders, infusing it with some of his signature flair: "This is a unique letter for me -- the last shareholder letter I will write as the CEO of the company I love," wrote Ballmer. "We have always believed that technology will unleash human potential and that is why I have come to work every day with a heart full of passion for more than 30 years."
A hearing on the leak of confidential Apple documents is scheduled for Oct. 22.
FORTUNE -- In advance of last year's big patent infringement trial that resulted in a billion dollar judgement against Samsung -- not a penny of which has yet been paid -- Samsung's attorneys demanded that Apple (AAPL) turn over the contents of its patent licensing agreements with Nokia (NOK) and three other manufacturers, Ericsson, Sharp, and Philips.
Apple MOREPhilip Elmer-DeWitt - Oct 3, 2013 8:49 AM ET
The exception is Apple, which dominates in both brand and operating system loyalty.
FORTUNE -- Given the magnitude of recent telecom deals -- Microsoft (MSFT) offering $7.2 billion for Nokia's (NOK) handset business, Google (GOOG) shelling out $12.5 billion for Motorola Mobility, Verizon (VZ) paying an astonishing $130 billion to buy out Vodafone's (VOD) 45% stake -- Consumer Intelligence Research Partners asks an interesting question:
What matters most to smartphone customers, the MOREPhilip Elmer-DeWitt - Sep 5, 2013 4:19 PM ET
Software hasn't just supplanted hardware in the past decade. It needs hardware as an ancillary business.
By Kevin Kelleher, contributor
FORTUNE – Imagine it's 1999. Scratch that, it's 2006.
The computer in your office is made by ... well, it doesn't matter who it's made by. Unless you are in a creative profession, that computer is run on Microsoft Windows. And the phone in your pocket is made by Nokia (NOK), or -- MORESep 4, 2013 10:02 AM ET
Why the Microsoft acquisition -- and Stephen Elop -- may turn out to be Nokia's greatest hope.
FORTUNE -- It's a sad day for Finland. Or is it? Sure, much of the phonemaker's storied legacy -- and future -- is now in Microsoft's hands, a bitter pill to swallow for many Finns. And yes, 32,000 Nokia employees will become part of the Redmond-based tech giant's empire overnight, whether they like it MOREMichal Lev-Ram, writer - Sep 3, 2013 2:53 PM ET
Apple has been aiming for the heart, Nokia for the jugular.
FORTUNE -- If, like me, you haven't been watching much ad-supported TV this summer, you may have missed the dramatic miniseries being played out on what used to be called Madison Avenue -- before so much of the business moved to the Coast.
The latest episodes pit Apple (AAPL), represented by BWA/Media Arts Lab, against Nokia (NOK), represented by WPP's JWT.
Its pitches much MOREPhilip Elmer-DeWitt - Aug 18, 2013 1:29 PM ET
Nokia's new Lumia 1020 features a 41-megapixel camera.
By Matt Vella, senior editor
FORTUNE -- Nokia is doubling down on one of the oldest features of the smartphone: the camera.
At a press conference on Thursday, the struggling Finnish electronics giant unveiled its latest smart phone, the Nokia (NOK) Lumia 1020. Its marquee feature: a built-in camera that packs a 41-megapixel sensor. The device, which the company had been teasing ahead of MOREJul 11, 2013 12:23 PM ET
This AdMob vet wants to bridge the divide between desktop and mobile advertising. If she succeeds, even Google could find itself at a disadvantage.
FORTUNE -- Kamakshi Sivaramakrishnan never planned to go into advertising, much less run a startup. But when the 37-year-old Stanford graduate, with a Ph.D. in Information Theory, met AdMob founder Omar Hamoui, she turned her back on Wall Street and joined AdMob as a research scientist in MOREJP Mangalindan, Writer - May 21, 2013 7:58 AM ET
Google's Android and Apple's iOS still make up the vast majority of the market.
FORTUNE -- There's a new number three.
Microsoft's (MSFT) Windows Phone operating system has overtaken BlackBerry (BBRY) for the first time, according to researcher IDC. The firm released its quarterly report on the smartphone market, showing that during the first quarter of 2013, Windows devices made up 3.2% of all smartphones shipped. BlackBerry devices accounted for 2.9% of MOREMatt Vella - May 16, 2013 10:46 AM ET
For the first time, says IDC, more smartphones were shipped than feature phones.
FORTUNE -- The headline of IDC's quarterly report on the state of the global mobile phone market Friday was that smartphone shipments, on the strength of their 41.6% year over year growth, overtook feature phones for the first time. The overall cellphone market, by contrast, grew an anemic 4%.
"Phone users want computers in their pockets," says IDC's Kevin Restivo.
With the usual caveat MOREPhilip Elmer-DeWitt - Apr 26, 2013 6:47 AM ET
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