Redmond View

Microsoft Revels in Its New Culture

The company is looking to return to its roots when it comes to producing innovative products and services.

Amazon Founder and CEO Jeff Bezos had reportedly said he doesn't want his company to become a country club for employees like neighboring Microsoft. Whether Bezos actually said or obsessed over that, it's hard to dispute Redmond was in a funk until recently. Fiefdoms and an inability to capitalize on its vast amount of research left many promising efforts at Microsoft on the sidelines.

It's rather ironic Microsoft had reached that state given the company was founded by Bill Gates and friends to take advantage of that very same issue plaguing IBM. During a recent visit to the Microsoft campus in Redmond that included Microsoft Research, it was evident the new corporate structure has put the company in a stronger position to capitalize on its $12 billion R&D spending. Granted it was a carefully scripted presentation, but some of Microsoft's celebrated researchers and some key executives demonstrated the company not only has a lot of irons in the fire -- that was always the case -- but its leadership is much less insular and ready to try to deliver new wares that can help make people more efficient in their personal and work lives. At the same time, the "not invented here" myopia no longer casts a shadow over Redmond.

Microsoft showcased the resources going into machine learning, which is already driving new offerings such as Azure ML, Cortana and Power BI, as well as the Microsoft Band. But that's just the tip of the iceberg. Stay tuned for more details, but the one message Microsoft was looking to share is that it has crystalized its mission. CEO Satya Nadella has said the concept of empowerment and achieving more for everyone is critical and he's trying to map R&D to that goal.

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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