Opinion: New CEO, Satya Nadella, is already modernising Microsoft

Last month Microsoft announced that Satya Nadella would usurp long-serving predecessor Steve Ballmer as CEO. The search for the successor was led by the Chairman of the Board of Directors for Microsoft, John Thompson, and was a decision vital to be filled by someone with the right skills

Satya was previously the executive vice president of Microsoft's Cloud and Enterprise group - responsible for building and running the company's computing platforms, developer tools and cloud services.

Anyone who follows the industry will know how important the Cloud is to any modern technology company; it’s an area which Microsoft has oft been criticised for not moving fast enough to take advantage of in many of their most important products.

Traditionally, Microsoft is a local software vendor; Windows, Office… two massive products which earn the company the biggest profits in the industry. Yet neither had embraced the Cloud at all until recently and still (in terms of Cloud utilisation) do not compare to say, Google’s offerings…

Google, as a web services company, has always embraced and thrived in the Cloud with products – for the most part – of no danger to Microsoft’s traditional business.

Now the enterprise and consumers are awakening to the increasing capabilities of the Cloud, and Google is heading towards the desktop OS and productivity suites arenas, Microsoft has started to pay attention.

The most clear-example is Microsoft’s Office 365, a Web-based version of Office that arrived well after many customers had started using Google’s free online productivity suites which had the unique advantage of being backed-up online instantly to where? You guessed it, the Cloud.

In a likely response to Google Drive, and the convenience that product offers, Microsoft launched SkyDrive (now OneDrive…)

Are you starting to see why Microsoft gained the stale, copycat-image chasing competitors whilst clinging to its historically-successful products rather than pioneering over late years? At a guess, this is somewhat due to Ballmer’s leadership – as speculated by many. He’s been referred to (even by colleagues) as a great sales guy; but not a person who can sense and take advantage of the next “big thing”.

This week, at his first post-CEO appearance, he said:

Someone should probably let Ballmer know WhatsApp is already a $19 billion worth success.

So what is Nadella doing different? It may be too early to definitively say any decisions being made are a direct result of his own influence – but a lot of cloud-based rumours have been coming out of Microsoft HQ this past week…

First up, and most importantly, free Windows.

Powered by Microsoft’s powerful ‘Bing’ Cloud service; reputable editor of ZDNet, Mary Jo Foley, is reporting that new SKU that got leaked to the web recently and could be a build which is offered free of charge to users in the coming years…

This would be out-of-ordinary by Microsoft; and as such; two assumptions can be made for such a radical move… 1) Microsoft is scared of Google’s Chrome OS. 2) Satya is ready for Microsoft to fully embrace the Cloud.

You may be wondering why Microsoft would be scared of Google’s OS with its limited apps and small marketshare? The answer lies in the enterprise, and consumers becoming less-reliant on Windows. Most tasks can be performed on Google’s free and cheap OS…

With departments looking at replacing their Windows XP machines – which Microsoft is soon cutting off support for – Chrome OS is an attractive option.

A Bing-supported free version of Microsoft’s OS will naturally be laden with advertising; and will likely use your habits to tailor the content you receive

Secondly, and ok we’re grasping at straws a little here, but rumours tell of Microsoft’s Cloud gaming network ‘Xbox Live’ coming to Android and iOS. A recent Microsoft job posting says: "We will create a modern framework that is open-source, lightweight, extensible and scalable across various platforms including Windows Store, Windows Phone, iOS, and Android,"

Whereas a Cloud-based Windows would appeal to the enterprise; Xbox Live everywhere would appeal to the consumer. I think this shows Satya is already modernising Microsoft in ways that Ballmer didn’t…

Do you think these new Cloud plays from Microsoft are a result of Satya’s leadership?

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