Microsoft began this trek last year when it announced the Surface tablet, which the company thought would narrow the gap between itself and Apple. Instead, with Windows 8 having become a relative flop, the gap has only widened. There's no question the failure of both Surface and Windows 8 is the reason why Ballmer is leaving. Disagree if you wish. But I don't believe the next CEO wants to take the helm being behind two 8-balls (Windows and Surface) or Google and Apple -- take your pick. By buying Nokia, Microsoft believes it can capture 15% to 20% of the smarphone market by 2018. Given that Microsoft currently owns only 3% share, this is a pretty aggressive bet, if you ask me. Also, it assumes that Apple and Google are just going to sit on their hands and let that happen. Investors, meanwhile, aren't wasting any time casting their opinions. Given that shares of Microsoft have been down by as much as 5% this morning, the market's not buying it -- the same way that the market never bought into Surface or Windows 8.
Microsoft needs to develop a better track record of execution before anyone will care. Right now, with Nokia coming on board, all Microsoft has done is buy itself a little bit more time as it seeks Ballmer's replacement. But as I've said on more than one occasion, Microsoft could have accomplished the same thing for a lot less by buyingBlackBerry ( BBRY). At the time of publication, the author was long AAPL. Follow @saintssenseThis article was written by an independent contributor, separate from TheStreet's regular news coverage.