CEO Satya Nadella
has his work cut out for him. Although Microsoft is still one of the most important tech companies in the world, the company’s dominance is slipping as technology evolves rapidly. The company’s old product paradigms simply don’t work anymore, and Microsoft has appeared out of touch and confused at times when it comes to key areas such as mobile and the not-quite-right and relatively unpopular Windows 8 operating system.
Nadella sent a lengthy (really, really lengthy
) memo to all Microsoft employees espousing his values for the company moving forward, and he has a grand vision.
For starters, he’s throwing out any affection for tradition and is embracing innovation, with a strong emphasis on mobile and the cloud. “We live in a mobile-first and cloud
-first world. Computing is ubiquitous and experiences span devices and exhibit ambient intelligence,” he wrote.
He’s also well aware that the Internet of Things will see mobile and the cloud merge in powerful ways: “Billions of sensors, screens and devices – in conference rooms, living rooms, cities, cars, phones, PCs – are forming a vast network and streams of data that simply disappear into the background of our lives.”
Although perhaps it seems a subtle distinction, Nadella is actively moving on from Microsoft’s description of itself as a “devices and services” company, describing it as the “productivity and platform company for the mobile-first and cloud-first world.”
One big piece of his picture is putting individuals, groups, and organizations at the center of their own computing experiences, enabling us to be more productive and better served by our technology. The foundation will be a “platform mindset”, where Microsoft’s developers and partners will create better Microsoft-based experiences for all.
Yet at the same time, he wants Microsoft to make it so platform matters less; people need to be at the center of computing, and as they move around, they shouldn’t lose their content and should still be able to enjoy rich computing experiences.
is getting a lot of internal attention; Nadella clearly believes she (it?) is an important piece of the puzzle going forward. If Cortana is the front end of the unified computing experience, then Microsoft’s cloud is the backend. In addition to offering plenty of options and features for businesses, Nadella said “Our cloud OS will also run all of Microsoft's digital work and life experiences, and we will continue to grow our datacenter footprint globally.“
Windows will continue to be a core focus for Microsoft going forward, as well, which is no surprise. Nadella believes that it can be expanded for all sorts of platforms and applications, and the company will continue to develop new kinds of input methods for it such as speech, pen, and gesture.
will also remain a major focus for the company. It’s a mature platform, and there remains a lot of room for innovation, and many of Microsoft’s other products inform Xbox and vice versa, such as Skype
, Kinect, and so on.
In terms of culture, Nadella wants to see that evolve. He wants to “obsess” over Microsoft customers, and he wants his teams to be more efficient, more accountable, and communicate more freely. “I am committed to making Microsoft the best place for smart, curious, ambitious people to do their best work,” he wrote.
One thing is certain; Satya Nadella has a vision for the future of Microsoft, and he’s looking forward, not back.