Elop reportedly open to unloading Bing, Xbox; cloud Office apps updated

|By:, SA News Editor

Stephen Elop, reportedly on Microsoft's (MSFT) CEO shortlists, would consider unloading the software giant's Bing and Xbox ops if given the top job, sources tell Bloomberg.

At the same time, Elop would make a larger priority of bringing Office to third-party mobile platforms. Microsoft has launched Office iPhone and Android apps (they require an Office 365 subscription), but has held off on launching iPad apps, and has said it won't do so until it develops a more touch-friendly UI for the cash-cow productivity suite.

If Elop (or a different Steve Ballmer replacement) decides to abandon Bing and Xbox, he might get plenty of support for the move. In his recent bullish note, Nomura's Rick Sherlund argued ditching the businesses, along with other moves, could boost FY15 EPS by 40%. Co-founder Paul Allen also wants Xbox and Bing to be unloaded.

Bing headlines an online services business that has lost billions in recent years, and the former Xbox unit (Entertainment & Devices) frequently alternated between making and losing money.

Bloomberg's report comes as Microsoft updates its free Office Web apps to support real-time collaboration, a feature that has long been a major selling point for Google Apps. Microsoft is also making Yammer's business social networking platform free to all enterprise Office 365 users; that could make life tougher for Yammer rival JIVE.