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Nadella Appears To Endorse Microsoft COO Turner

Kevin Turner, Microsoft's incendiary and controversial chief operating officer, appears to have an ally in Microsoft's new CEO.

Satya Nadella, newly appointed Microsoft's third CEO, twice singled out Turner as a valuable asset to Microsoft during a webcast Tuesday afternoon designed to introduce Nadella to customers and partners.

"Kevin" was the first Microsoft executive Nadella mentioned during the 20-minute webcast, citing the COO's recently concluded worldwide tour of Microsoft subsidiaries. Later, Nadella said, "I'm blessed to have a fantastic leadership team with Kevin and the others on the [Senior Leadership Team]."

New Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella (left) and Microsoft COO Kevin Turner.

Microsoft turned the webcast camera several times to the front row of an audience of executives and customers on the Microsoft campus, showing Turner nodding in agreement with various points Nadella was making.

Turner was one of several senior Microsoft insiders mentioned as possible replacements for Steve Ballmer, who announced in August that he would step down within a year. Other names in regular circulation were Tony Bates, executive vice president of business development and evangelism, and Stephen Elop, who is returning to Microsoft with the acquisition of Nokia's mobile phone business.

While working with other executives who were in line for the same job will be a tightrope for Nadella to walk, there has been speculation that Turner may be on the way out as Microsoft reorganizes at the top. Earlier in the day, Kara Swisher, the well-sourced Re/code reporter who broke a number of stories about the Microsoft CEO search, wrote, "It will be interesting to see what happens to Turner, as well as advertising and strategy head Mark Penn, the well-known political operative who has been -- to say the least -- an internally controversial Ballmer appointment."

Turner is a staple of the Microsoft Worldwide Partner Conference, where he regularly entertains attendees with hyperbolic swipes at Microsoft's competition. However, many partners and former Microsoft employees privately contend that Turner is driving cost containment efforts in the channel that are penny-wise and pound-foolish.

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Posted by Scott Bekker on February 04, 2014 at 10:43 AM


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