At a media event last week, Satya Nadella, Microsoft’s chief executive, answered a number of questions. Outside of Surface, for example, he thinks Microsoft’s biggest hardware business is Xbox. But the company’s focus today is on the cloud business, so Naderat explains everything from building data centers to internal servers and network stacks.
(Pictured: Microsoft, via TheVerge)
When reporters delved further into the hardware issue, Nadella painted a picture of Microsoft’s modern vision — far more than the company had previously defined as about a billion Windows users.
Windows is the foundation of Microsoft’s 1 billion installs and will continue to add about 100 million PCs each year. We want to serve it in a very good way.
In addition, Microsoft is considering a broader context, not just what the company has achieved, such as looking ahead to the idea of 50 billion end devices.
Whether it’s a billion Windows, 2 billion Androids, or a billion iOS devices, that’s a grand vision, but we want to look to the future of $46 billion.
For years, Microsoft has been talking about driving the rapid growth of the Internet of Things (IoT) through sensors and simple devices. At the same time, the company has been building a cloud empire, quietly acquiring companies that can help it manage billions of cloud-connected devices.
Some analysts say Microsoft has taken 22 billion connected devices. By 2025-2030, it is expected to grow to 50 billion connected devices.
For the average consumer, Microsoft may be the next IBM, but that’s not the case. Of course, the company will continue to strive to create a cross-platform environment for global computing devices.
Whether it’s Azure Sphere that supports Xbox through elastic processing power, distributed storage, or on top of a custom Linux kernel.
At the same time, Microsoft faces huge challenges from competitors. Companies including Amazon, ARM, Dell, Huawei, Cisco, IBM, Intel, Google, HP, Oracle, Qualcomm, Samsung, etc. are all vying for the next billion devices, but there are no clear big winners.
To achieve this ambitious goal, Microsoft needs to convince its competitors and work with more partners.
That’s why we’ve seen Microsoft and Amazon connect Cortana and Alexa smart assistants, Samsung’s Android app service, Wal-Mart’s high-tech grocery store, and Sony’s future cloud games.
Clearly, since taking over as Microsoft’s CEO six years ago, Nadella has become acutely aware of the future of technology and has taken Microsoft in the other direction.
After just a year, the results are clear. About two years ago, the company restructured its Windows division to prepare positively for a world outside the Windows operating system.
Last October, Microsoft announced that surface Duo dual-screen mobile devices would embrace Google’s Android, meaning Windows 10 Mobile is no longer important.
As an acknowledgement of how mobile computing is changing the way people communicate and work, the company will focus on the application and service experience in the future, not just on the Windows-Office productivity suite.
Of course, that doesn’t mean Windows is dead, or that Microsoft will soon give it up, but the importance of the operating system is no longer the same.
Hopefully, after removing this burden, the company will be able to avoid repeating the mistakes of the mobile era and not missing out on more development opportunities.