Vague justifications about under-performance of Windows Mobile or cancelled Courier miss the whole point. The chronic problems with Microsoft’s consumer businesses cited as causes for dismissal have roots in core processes and priorities which management changes will not address. The failure of Zune was evident long ago. Windows Mobile has not been competitive with RIM for years, and failed to take significant share from Symbian, never mind iPhone. Tablets were the responsibility of the Windows team. Kin is a rogue project based on a bone-headed acquisition. From a P/L point of view, Entertainment was mostly Xbox, which although deep in the hole over its lifetime, was starting to break even.
No, the reason I believe Bach lost his head is that HP bought Palm.
Bach lost a key account; in fact, he could be responsible for having lost the biggest account that Microsoft ever had. Ballmer is a sales guy and he knows the importance of these relationships. A customer like HP must be managed carefully and their strategy must be steered to fit with yours. If HP felt they needed to go somewhere else for their mobile OS, it’s a slap in the face, but if they buy the asset and IP and internalize a competing platform, then that is a dagger to the heart for Ballmer.
Consider Google’s seduction of Dell. Microsoft can tolerate Dell’s affairs (Dell even fooled around with Linux back in the day.) But in contrast, HP is effectively filing for divorce.
The blow could not have been more obvious and more cruel.