Redmond View

Nadella's Microsoft: Productivity and Platforms

After making some incremental moves in his first half year as Microsoft CEO, some of which were in the works before he took over, now the heavy lifting begins for Satya Nadella. Nadella last month ditched the tagline describing Redmond as a "devices and services" company -- the phrase his predecessor Steve Ballmer donned back in November 2012. Microsoft should now be known as a "productivity and platforms" company, Nadella told employees in an e-mail.

Perhaps not looking to throw stones at his predecessor and former boss, Nadella said "devices and services" helped kick off Microsoft transformation. However, it was an ill-advised way to define Microsoft at the time and Nadella was wise to ditch it. The period likely will be remembered as a time Microsoft had an identity crisis. The truth is, if you look at the Microsoft core deliverables -- and its most profitable ones, too -- the company's crown jewels have always centered on delivering platforms aimed at making people productive.

It's also a theme founder Bill Gates often spoke of when he was at the helm. That's not to say Nadella is looking back and not ahead. Even if productivity and platforms got Microsoft where it is, Nadella's looking at it in the present and future.

"We think about productivity for people, teams and the business processes of entire organizations as one, interconnected digital substrate," Nadella told employees. "We also think about interconnected platforms for individuals, IT and developers."

Note that Nadella isn't doing away with the other mantra he frequently uses when he speaks regarding Microsoft's focus on cloud and mobility. "At our core, Microsoft is the productivity and platform company for the mobile-first and cloud-first world."

While it's hard to get too excited about the catchphrase de jour, Nadella is signaling that he has a substantive plan to step up the deliverables and change the culture in Redmond with the goal of getting the Microsoft mojo back.

About the Author

Jeffrey Schwartz is editor of Redmond magazine and also covers cloud computing for Virtualization Review's Cloud Report. In addition, he writes the Channeling the Cloud column for Redmond Channel Partner. Follow him on Twitter @JeffreySchwartz.

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