Microsoft investor, Mason Morfit seeks change on how giant software maker sells its products

By Nicel Jane Avellana

Feb 03, 2014 10:59 AM EST

Sources told Bloomberg that ValueAct Holdings Lp President Mason Morfit intends to make a change on how Microsoft Corp will sell its flagship products. Morfit will be joining the board of directors at Microsoft as the latter gets ready to make Satya Nadella as the company's chief executive officer, the report said.

The people, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because the information is confidential, told Bloomberg that Morfit and ValueAct want Microsoft to lessen the focus it puts on Windows, the operating system behind majority of the firm's products. The world's biggest software maker has concentrated on offering applications and server software that would work specially for Windows for the past twenty years, the report said.

What ValueAct wants is for Microsoft to ramp up its efforts in unfastening products and services from Windows so that these can be more broadly adopted with mobile devices like smartphones and tablets. Doing so would allow programs, like Office, that run on Windows to be utilized on Apple's or Samsung's gadgets which use other operating systems, the sources said. The strategy is also meant to revive the growth of Microsoft which has been challenged by the growing popularity of mobile devices, the report said.

The people added that Morfit wants to put emphasis on enterprise and cloud businesses while prompting Microsoft to scale back on products like the Xbox game console which is expensive to manufacture and market.

The sources say Morfit intends to use persuasion and data to champion this cause behind the scenes. According to the people who have worked with Morfit and evaluated the public statements as well as past activist efforts of ValueAct, the behind-the-scenes approach is part of the activist playbook of the investor which prefers using quiet influence through data to encourage companies to make a long-term commitment to change instead of poison penmanship, the report said.

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