Satya Nadella in the driver’s seat
Mumbai: Ever since taking over as chief executive of Microsoft (MS) in February, 2014, Satya Nadella has been gradually phasing out some of the legacy decisions he inherited from former chief executive officer Steve Ballmer. These included ridding the company of Nokia’s phone business and embracing arch rival Linux and everything that is open source. Moreover, Microsoft’s Windows 10, or “Windows as a service”, now provides free upgrades.
Under Nadella’s leadership, Microsoft has also joined hands with the world’s largest open Internet of Things (IoT) standard group with other founding members including Cisco Systems Inc., General Electric Co., Intel Corp., and Samsung Electronics Co. Ltd—a move that is expected to help Microsoft to position Windows 10 as an OS platform for IoT and the Azure IoT platform to be its cloud companion.
Besides, the purchase of professional networking site LinkedIn is expected to help the $85 billion Microsoft strengthen its real-time cloud-based unified communications (UC) suite for enterprises even though its earlier acquisitions of similar companies like Lync, Yammer and Skype indicate that integration with the professional networking site will hold key to a successful outcome.
UC tools from firms such as Cisco Systems Inc., Avaya Inc., Google Inc., Facebook Inc. and Microsoft offer integrated data, video, and voice, allowing users to access a variety of communication applications such as e-mail, SMS, video, fax, voice, and others through a single user mailbox. UC also allows for scheduling, workflow, instant messaging and voice response systems, enabling the integration via multiple devices—be it your desktop, laptop, cellphone or even a wearable.
The UC bit, thus, fits well with the overall vision that Nadella has—that of wanting Microsoft to help companies reinvent their productivity and business processes with the help of tools like OneNote, Windows 10 and Office 365; build an intelligent cloud with the help of Azure; and introduce new types of computers such as the Surface Pro tablet, wearables such as Microsoft Band and mixed reality gadgets such as HoloLens even as Microsoft is keen on having Windows running on any device—be it a phone, tablet, PC, XBox gaming console or TV.
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Microsoft believes that with these changes, it is ushering in an “era of personal computing” but these moves have been clearly prompted by intense competition from technology firms, like Apple, Google, Hewlett-Packard Corp. and International Business Machines Corp. (IBM)—both in the consumer and business segments.
To be sure, Microsoft’s office suite today also runs on rival Apple’s iOS and Google’s Android OS devices even as it is simultaneously scaling up partnerships with former rivals like IBM and Salesforce.com Inc. The Redmond-based software leader already has a partnership with General Electric (GE) focused on the industrial cloud. The plan is to make GE’s Predix platform available on Microsoft Azure and help customers collect data from industrial assets and use Microsoft’s enterprise cloud apps. It also signifies a major step forward for companies as they navigate the rapid growth of IoT.