At a recent private media event, a reporter was replied by Microsoft CEO – Satya Nadella when the reporter asked how does businesses like Surface and Xbox fit into the broader vision of Microsoft? Upon which Satya asked the reporter, “what do you think is the biggest hardware business at Microsoft?”. The reporter replied, “Xbox”.
The CEO of one of the most valuable company on the planet is looking beyond Xbox and Surfaces… which was clear when he said to the report who had answered Xbox.. “No, it’s our Cloud”.
Since Satya has taken reigns at Microsoft in 2014, he has made big changes to the organization. He has reshuffled positions, the chief for Windows is no longer at Microsoft, Nokia take over was written off and life at Microsoft no longer revolved around “Windows”.
In this media briefing, this was probably the first time when Satya came clear on how he sees Windows in the broad ambitions at Microsoft. He explained, to Microsoft, Windows is 1 billion+ devices (or endpoints as he likes to call), Android is 2 billion+ endpoints, iOS is another billion endpoints. These are 4 billion endpoints. Microsoft wants to target the the 4 billion (Windows, Android and iOS combined) + the 46 Billion endpoints that is out there by virtue of different types of IoT devices.
As per some analysts, there is going to be about 50 billion devices (or endpoints) by 2025/2030 and Microsoft wants to serve those 50 billion endpoints through its “World’s Computer” ambitions. Microsoft no longer cares (of course not literally) about few ecosystems like the Windows, Android and iOS but everything else. It wants to be the back end service provider to all the endpoints that are running today and by 2025/2030 when 50 billion mark is hit and beyond.
Satya also revealed during the private media event and jokingly said, “Sometimes I say, ‘Hey, look should I call Windows… Azure Edge?'”. As much as Windows may never be called Windows Azure Edge or whatever, but one thing was clear, Mr. Nadella certainly looks at Windows nothing more than a Computing Edge, Endpoint or another device (however you want to call it/look at it). An Endpoint where Microsoft Cloud services can be delivered to. Microsoft wants to handle all the heavy stuff at Azure Cloud level and deliver the data to the endpoint. It could be through its Virtual Machines, SQL Azure, Machine+AI, Networking Stack and many more.
The world has past beyond Windows, that is very true today. The Windows is no more the personal computer it used to be in 90s and 2000s. After the introduction of the iPhone in 2007, things have never been the same and it disrupted how people used to use their PC devices.
Back in the days, most of our computing needs were served by a computer. Today, leaving businesses aside, most of the tasks can be completed on the smart phones from reading and writing emails, to check on social network, from watching videos, music to other productivity needs.
Because of the above, Windows was no longer important to many of us. You did not have to go on to your computer to check emails, browse the internet or listen to music. All that has been shifted to a smartphone.
And because Microsoft did not lead the way nor succeeded in their smartphone endeavors (Windows Phone initiatives), they were forced to look beyond their most loved product, Windows.
But Microsoft is a very healthy and stable company today, both financially and with a great vision.
Microsoft Azure (cloud) is the biggest business at Microsoft today, and number 2 to only AWS – despite coming late to the cloud party. And Satya understands this, that they can no longer rely on its Windows OS even though it still generates billions of cash for the company. But it is not the future nor the focus. Microsoft welcomes everybody on its cloud platform, be it there friends or even their not so friends.
The world of Microsoft is very different today, you can run Linux on Azure, Windows 10 supports Linux kernel, Sony announced it was partnering with Microsoft to bring its own Game streaming service using Azure Cloud (even though it is going to compete with Xbox and xCloud). The point to note here is, for example Sony is a clear winner in the gaming market and if it runs on Azure and beats Xbox in the gaming space, Microsoft will still generate billions of revenue by leasing Sony, its Azure platform. So it’s not wrong to say that, Microsoft is going to win by loosing.. does that make sense?