Satya Nadella may be both good and bad for Microsoft
So the results are in, the votes are counted, the hanging chads are ignored, and we have a new CEO – Satya Nadella. Mr. Nadella is a mainstay with Microsoft who has been with the company since before many of us bought our first smart phone. Twenty-two years ago, a bright, young engineering n00b stepped onto the deck of the U.S.S. Microsoft and today he gets to go straight to the captain’s chair formerly occupied by just two other gentlemen – Bill Gates and Steve Ballmer. That’s right, this is like Ben Sisko taking charge of a space station following Kirk and Picard (though maybe more of a “there are four lights” kind of crazy Picard). I mean how do you follow Kirk and Picard? This is kind of a big deal.
This is the American Dream. Join a great company, work hard, step on a few heads and climb to the top. It’s a pretty cool thing. He has been around the company, working in various departments and divisions all over the Microsoft map. He is most known for his work with cloud services, Azure and Enterprise software, which really is Microsoft’s bread and butter.
Many analysts dubbed Nadella the “safe” choice. And of course, he was. He’s got a sharp mind, and he is a proven leader. He comes from a country which falls into the “emerging market” category which is where Windows Phone has made the most inroads. He’s also a Chicago-boy (well college anyway), so I can totally get behind that, even if he probably rooted for the Sox while he was here (nobody’s perfect). But he’s also been drinking the Microsoft Kool-Aid for twenty two years, so there is some concern there. If Nadella is here to promote more of the same, then that might not mean very good things for Microsoft. I mean, let’s look at it honestly.
Windows 8 is pretty much a disaster. It’s the very definition of “we don’t know what we want” (or more severely, “we don’t know what the heck we’re doing”) with its twisted orgy of Modern UI and Desktop. It has gotten to the point that Microsoft is considering backpedaling and making the Modern UI an afterthought. It’s very wishy-washy. I’m, just being honest here, people. There is potential for the Modern UI, but when you stop and think about it, Microsoft Office doesn’t even run in it. Microsoft’s own product hasn’t embraced its own interface. That is some kinda messed up, yo.
Which brings us to Windows Phone. Windows Phone is a great platform, but Microsoft literally cannot buy the developer support that other platforms have. It has some fantastic updates coming to it courtesy of Windows Phone 8.1. This will finally bring Windows Phone up to the same level as its competitors as far as basic operating system requirements. All good things. Good things that took a long time, but all the same, good things.
It’s also doing great in emerging markets, which is great, but at the end of the day if a customer barely scraping by enough to buy a $60 smart phone, chances are they are not buying apps, or X-Box music, or games, or anything that’s going to really fatten Microsoft’s wallet. Not to mention that not buying into a platform equates to no reliable customer retention.
So if Nadella is planning on continuing along this road, I guess it’s fine, but it will likely result in Microsoft losing even more ground in the mobile space which I think most of us agree is where the computing industry is trending.
Areas of focus
But, as I mentioned before Nadella does have some real strengths to bring to the table. Nadella has stood at the helm of both the Server and Tools business group and the cloud computing group. Both are really good areas for Microsoft to focus in the coming years.
Microsoft still makes most of its money from enterprise and corporations. Volume licenses are the gold out of which Bill Gate’s BMW is built. So Microsoft really needs to focus on maintaining its enterprise dominance, but mobile technology websites don’t really care a whole lot about that. Mobile technology websites loves them some cloud though.
Up in the clouds
The cloud is part of the infrastructure that makes us mobile folks tick. From backups, to photo storage and sharing, to the various forms of synergy that keep our contacts in line, the cloud is the shizzle in our nizzle. Just imaging the types of cloud services that could be integrated into Windows Phone makes a girl giggle.
Cloud is also a very forward thinking platform and if Nadella is able to make a forward thinking platform a success, he could make other forward thinking platforms – like mobile – a success as well. So this could potentially be a pretty sweet thing for Microsoft.
Lets also remember the B-Side to that CEO album that Microsoft recorded – Bill Gates will be increasing his role as technical advisor to Microsoft. This is also a good thing for Microsoft considering Gates is the one who built up Microsoft in the first place.
So, from my laymen’s perspective who honestly couldn’t have picked Nadella out of a police lineup two weeks ago, there are some concerns here. But overall this all looks like a big positive for Microsoft going forward. Time will tell as time tends to do, but until it does, lets hear from the business analysts out there in our comments section. How do you view Nadella’s appointment now that we’ve let it soak in for a while? Bright horizons ahead or is this a mistake of Leo Apotheker proportions?