Nadella charts new route for Microsoft
The new Microsoft chief executive puts his stamp on the tech giant
Satya Nadella has outlined a new mobile-first, cloud-first strategy that he hopes will put Microsoft on the right track. Photograph: David Paul Morris/Bloomberg
Fifty-two days into his tenure as Microsoft’s new chief executive Satya Nadella ironically chose to have his first major event in front of the press since taking the helm of the world’s largest software company coincide with MacWorld.
It was telling that he wasn’t there to show off Windows software optimised for its touch-focused operating system. Instead he was unveiling Office for iPad, the software suite that has for almost four years resisted the lure of Apple’s tablet.
It was a big moment for both the company and Nadella. While the apps are likely to have been in development for some time, the fact that their release marks his first major event since taking over is something of an indicator of his priorities as chief executive.
It’s a challenging role to fill. While Microsoft was once considered the top of the class in the software market, a few missteps and experiments have seen it slip slightly. And that’s before you start looking at its mobile strategy in recent years. Nadella has a significant task ahead of him to compete in a fast moving market.
This week he outlined a new mobile-first, cloud-first strategy that he hopes will put Microsoft on the right track.
The difference in style between Nadella and his predecessor, Steve Ballmer, was marked. You couldn’t imagine Nadella dancing around a stage, perspiring heavily while chanting about developers. Or throwing office furniture after hearing an employee was leaving for a rival.
While Ballmer was known for his wildly energetic performances, Nadella was more poised and polished. Where Ballmer was all about over-the-top enthusiasm for Microsoft and its products, Nadella was more understated but optimistic. There was even a touch of humour when relaying the reaction to his staff email that outlined the mobile-first, cloud-first world: “Like any place that’s got predominantly computer scientists, I get back this mail saying, ‘Hey, look, how can two things be first? I mean, do you have a problem with ordinal numbers or something?’”
And with Ballmer’s focus trained on Windows, perhaps to the detriment of Microsoft’s future, his successor gave a clear signal that times are changing. In fact, Microsoft’s Surface tablet was conspicuous in its absence from the event.
Will Nadella be what Microsoft needs to steer it on the right path? Time will tell, but he certainly got off to a strong start.