You can have “mobile first, cloud first” and target business and consumer users at the same time, apparently. So says Microsoft’s recently installed chief executive Satya Nadella, who reckons there’s no contradiction in his big plan for Microsoft.
Nadella was speaking this afternoon at Microsoft’s annual Worldwide Partner Conference (WPC), where he was trying to rally partners to his cause.
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As such, Nadella used WPC to justify Microsoft's continued building of applications, operating systems and services for consumers and businesses.
He was speaking following the release of his super-memo/press-release posted to the world last week, that’s been pummelled for an excess of waffle and contradiction.
Nadella used WPC to fight back.
It was an inaugural WPC appearance for the new CEO, but it lacked anything new and retrod the super-memo themes.
There was certainly no detail on the restructuring hinted at last week, which seems needed to make Microsoft more of a mobile-first, cloud-first player. Microsoft is expected to let more than 5,000 staff go. One report, here, said 1,000 are going in Finland, from the Nokia mobile phone unit Microsoft bought this spring.
Self-effacing, Nadella reckoned he gets at least one email a day from his own computer scientists saying that his trademark “mobile-first, cloud-first” strategy is a contradiction.
“How can two things be first, you can’t sort,” the incredulous boffins of Redmond tell Nadella, it seems.
His answer to that?
“The cloud orchestrates it but without the end points you aren’t going to have the impact in the world and people’s lives so you have to think about this next generation of computing as mobile-first, cloud-first.”
Nadella said the cloud provides a platform that can feed devices with services and updates while the device serves as an end point that gives the cloud use.
According to Nadella, its not just about building “fantastic email” or any one application.
Rather, he envisions a world where something like Office goes from a mere productivity suite to something that ties together all the "artifacts” of people’s lives.
“We are building an operating system for human activity across their daily lives,” he said.
The cloud will become what Nadella called “a backplane” for providing things like device and identity management and security for devices.
The Microsoft cloud will be able to be accessed from “any device,” Nadella promised.
If there was a hint of anything specific, it was a suggestion that Microsoft will become more like Google – a data based company building vast social graphs and using machine learning to connect those "artifacts". Redmond will develop and deliver services like the already announced Cortana - Microsoft's answer to Apple's Siri - as part of new interfaces, inputs and capabilities.
Nadella said Microsoft will possess a “very rich data platform” for SQL and non-SQL with all the processing capabilities in one place. “The place we will truly shine will be around insights,” he promised.
Nadella, meanwhile, re-committed Microsoft to the end point – what the company is now calling “first party hardware.”
That strategy has seen Microsoft build the loss-making Surface.
“The goal for first party hardware is to create categories and markets, but we want to stimulate the entire ecosystem,” he said.
Microsoft’s first-party tablet the Surface has so far notched up negligible market share and upset PC partners while OEMs have sold Windows 7 and Windows 8 machines regardless of the existence of Surface. ®