Now sixteen months on the job as CEO, it’s interesting to consider how Satya Nadella has done with Microsoft. Our focus is on the IT pro, but Satya has all that and more to consider. (Xbox is an example of that, and so is selling Windows Mobile phones to carriers).
“productivity and platform company for the mobile-first and cloud-first world”
Satya still seems to be keeping most of his enterprise customers happy. We are close to a Windows 10 launch and those of us who have been part of the Windows Insider program would observe that many desktop-centric improvements are included, making a Windows 7 upgrade more palatable for the IT Pro. As reported at the Build and Ignite conferences, there is a pipeline of updates coming to IT Pros everywhere, including those that still prefer to deploy “old school” or on-premises.
Satya’s previous job as EVP for Cloud and Enterprise shows in the continuing features and major investments in Azure, Office365 and Microsoft datacenters across the globe. Depending on your company’s size and risk taking profile, Microsoft cloud offerings may be ready for you. For larger companies, there is plenty of guidance on how to run hybrid cloud as a mix of on-premises and Azure and Office365.
The stock market seems to be very happy in the last two years. To be fair, you have to admit that Ballmer investments have been paying off too.
In a previous blog post, we considered two possible paths for the new Microsoft. We called them “Stay the course: try to copy every other company’s good ideas” and “Split up Microsoft into separate companies, both winning and losing business.” The current strategy seems most closely aligned to the latter. For example, to keep from losing too many customers too quickly, Microsoft is offering Windows 10 upgrades “free for the first year”. You many have seen the icon in your system tray to “reserve” your copy. It’s clever and should do a good job of keeping the consumer base on Windows and up-to-date. No freebies to Enterprises, though, but they are likely already paying Software Assurance. Similarly free and to protect the customer base, some very good versions of Office are available online and on mobile devices. The important enterprise features are in the paid versions of these apps.
In the recent acquisitions, Skype is a strong brand, taking over Lync with Skype for Business, and new features in Skype show major investments. In the devices part of the company (XBox excluded), the Nokia mobile devices are suffering from the lack of a flagship phone, but it may be waiting on a Windows 10 Phone launch. (Lack of apps on the phone platform may improve if developers in the Visual Studio upgrades can easily port apps over.) The Surface 3 Pro was joined with a lower priced Intel-CPU of a “plain” Surface 3 (ARM is dead for Surface). And maybe the Surface 4 and a Surface Mini are around the corner. The most fascinating device was just announced and it is only for enterprise customers: the Surface Hub conference room touch computer with Skype for Business built-in.
Another point we made in the post was that a split company might change the culture to focus more and not have divisions at odds with each other. I can tell you that my interactions with Microsoft are much improved, from corporate product folks to the local account team. The culture has changed, and faster than expected for such a large company.
Well done, Satya. Let’s see what the next year brings.