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Nadella: Microsoft's Focus Will Be Mobile and Cloud First

Newly named Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella laid out the company's vision today in a speech before customers, partners and Microsoft employees.

Nadella was asked a few questions by Susan Hauser, corporate vice president of the enterprise and partner group at Microsoft. Nadella, the company's third CEO, succeeding Steve Ballmer today, quickly outlined the company's path forward, with a "mobile first/cloud first" message. The focus was similar to the devices and services vision outlined for the company by Ballmer in late 2012. It extends the company's earlier emphasis on software plus services and connected devices, which was described by former Chief Software Architect Ray Ozzie years ago.

Nadella is a 22-year Microsoft veteran, having joined the company at age 24. He attributed his staying power at Microsoft to being "a lifelong learner." He didn't advocate learning for learning's sake at Microsoft. He said the focus at Microsoft will be to apply its learning to new products.

Hauser asked Nadella to talk about the mobility first/cloud first theme that Nadella had described in an e-mail to employees.

"We have sort of talked about how our strategy going forward is about devices and services," Nadella said. "And I've said this also in my e-mail, which is [that] this business of ours is exciting because in some sense it doesn't really respect tradition in what we've done in the past. It's all about innovation and going forward. And for us and what is going to define Microsoft going forward, it's a mobile first/cloud first world."

The cloud will support an "Internet of things" or intelligent industrial devices. Devices are evolving with software, but it's the software that will define the new experiences.

"Software is the most malleable thing that's going to define the experiences, the insight, the ambient intelligence that is going to follow these device experiences," Nadella explained.

The cloud is a part of that vision because a lot of the apps that run on the devices have backends in the cloud, he explained. Nadella put the emphasis heavily on software, saying that the software that empowers everyone will be the core on what Microsoft will do with its devices.

Microsoft focuses on user experiences, and doesn't necessarily compartmentalize its software development efforts toward consumer and business segments, Nadella explained. In saying that, he also put in a good word for Microsoft continuing to build IT controls into its products.

"In many of these cases what needs to happen in experiences…that for sure have to have a strong notion of identity and security -- so IT control, where it's needed, still matters a lot and that's something that we will uniquely bring to market. But it starts with the user. The user is going to have a life at home and a life at work. So how do we bridge that as more and more what they do is digitally mediated?"

That bridge might be carried out via innovations in communications and social media products, he suggested.

Nadella stressed that Microsoft still had lots to learn "both internally and externally," noting that Nokia soon will be joining the company. He said that his next steps would be to take to the road to meet with partners and constituents in order to keep in touch with "perceptions and reality."

Nadella said that Microsoft was already engaged in its mobile first/cloud first approach, but that its efforts would gain more specificity over time and would not be replicable by other companies.

About the Author

Kurt Mackie is senior news producer for the 1105 Enterprise Computing Group.

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