“I think it’s a good decision for Steve to step down and pass control to someone else, probably an outsider,” writes Forrester Vice President and Principal Analyst Ted Schadler in a blog post examining the announcement that Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer will be retiring within 12 months. “Microsoft will then face its IBM or GE moment: Keep the company together or break it apart? Lou Gerstner kept IBM together and that decision had paid off handsomely. Then again, IBM relentlessly focused on a single enterprise market, shedding its PC and other low-margin businesses.”

In addition, Forrester Vice President and Principal Analyst J.P. Gownder makes the call that the next CEO will contend with mobility, platforms, and consumerization. “As CEO, Steve Ballmer solidified Microsoft’s stronghold in enterprise solutions. Microsoft built and maintained — or built and made itself into a key challenger — in several enterprise markets,” writes Gownder in a blog post. “Microsoft Office remains a titanic success, even as it faces lower-cost competition from Google and others. Windows Azure has been cultivated into a full-fledged contender in the cloud services market. Exchange remains entrenched in enterprises, as do many of Microsoft’s Server and Tools offerings. Microsoft remains the company to beat in some of these markets and has become a formidable challenger (e.g., as Azure takes on Amazon Web Services) in others.”

Read the full analysis on Forrester’s CIO and Infrastructure & Operations blogs.