TSJ, I haven't considered the replacement options as anything more than a name.
The "billion dollar payoff" were headlines referring to the next day's jump in Microsoft's stock value - along the lines that "Ballmer announces his departure" and on Day 2, "IF he sold his stock today - the day after his announcement - he'd have made a billion dollars more than yesterday's value."
Not exactly the greatest vote of confidence in his tenure!!
This thread's original comment starts with keeping Ballmer's key people around. And like every team's coaching change, there are distinctly negative possibilities in this. Ballmer is NOT The Worker in Microsoft. I think his "bobblehead cheerleader" status may be closer to the truth than not, in fact, so keeping his Key People means "more of the same", not a change in direction.
If that's what Microsoft wants to do, then stapling their feet to the floor is one way.
Of course, maybe the THREAT of my railroad spikes might pay another dividend. "Where's the door?!!"
I'd like to see re-appropriate shift in the mentality of those running their "customer research groups" because this is how users can get what they actually want to use. The programmers, I believe, are capable of providing good products. Just like they can provide Win8 and 8.1 which seems to be like giving customers small, stale crackers in the middle of the computer-economy's Sahara.
TSJ, as names pop up, I'd appreciate your preference arguments about those.