ORLANDO — Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella said Windows 10 is the first installment in creating a platform that can run on multiple screens as well as the Internet of things. He also said the one Windows strategy could be as much about running sensors as well as the form factors everyone knows today.
Nadella, speaking at the Gartner Symposium ITxpo, was talking to enterprise technology executives and outlining the company's strategy. In his first appearance at the ITxpo, Nadella, who came off as down to earth, approachable and customer-focused, talked mobile, licensing and IT management.
Windows 10 appears to be the linchpin of so many points in Microsoft's strategy.
"Windows has gone through a rearchitecture to one core Windows that runs everywhere. We architected the right Windows in the right devices with the right features," explained Nadella.
Nadella added that Windows will be able to run on everything from sensors to wearables to whatever computing shift emerges. "Windows 10 is a very important step for us. It's the first step in a new generation of Windows as opposed to just another release after Windows 8. General purpose computing is going to run on 200 plus billion sensors. We've architected Windows where it can run on everything."
The key for Windows in the future will be offering user experience consistency where ever it will run.
"The Internet of Things end points will need an operating system that's manageable and secure. I feel Windows will be a fantastic operating system to run on the edge," said Nadella. Another key point will be taking that OS and the data end point and offloading into Azure for predictive analytics. "That's really our IoT strategy," said Nadella. "We're in IoT today. Listening to you today makes me want to go back and put my marketing department on it."
On other key topics:
- Licensing. Nadella agreed that Microsoft licensing is too complicated, but that's because the company has listened to customers' needs for various options. Nadella said the Microsoft executive team wants to simplify and Office 365 pricing is a step in the right direction. Part of a recurring theme for licensing will revolve around the user and not the device. That change would account for mobility and customers that will hop from multiple devices. Consumption is another pricing option. "The changing nature of demand is what licensing will follow," he said.
- Mobility. Nadella said mobility is not about devices, but the control plane and productivity and cloud tools. "We have to think about mobility as the user and app experiences not the devices," said Nadella. Windows 10 is a bet on the mobility front.
- Active Directory. Nadella agreed with the notion that Active Directory is arguably Microsoft's most important asset. "We're making significant investments," said Nadella. Active Directory can be the cloud identity keeper.
- Morphing architecture. Nadella added that Microsoft will adapt its code and approach as it goes along. "As paradigms change we will build platforms for them," he said.
- Why gaming? Nadella said Windows took its voice technology from Xbox as well as a few key security features. There's value in gaming for the broader enterprise.
- Cloud. Nadella said Microsoft's strength in the cloud is the ability to bring most things. But the most strategic API in the company is Office 365 and its extensions. That Office API even trumps Azure's. Office extensibility and data has led to billions of identity transactions in Azure Active Directory. Nadella said Azure has to keep up with Amazon Web Services, but Microsoft's strength is its hybrid cloud technology. System Center and other enterprise tools can connect directly into Azure.
- AWS. Nadella chafed at the notion that AWS has hybrid cloud via its partnerships. Nadella said hybrid cloud is more than just the connections. The main part of hybrid cloud is the management control plane. "You have to think about what is your edge in the cloud," said Nadella, who quickly said that it's Microsoft's server platforms. He said Oct. 20th would feature more news on that front. Nadella scoffed at the notion that three North American companies — AWS, Microsoft and Google — will dominate the cloud. He said Microsoft has to enable other clouds — including nation states — to be built on its technology.
- Transitioning to new models. Nadella argued that Office 365 is the new Exchange and one will cannibalize the other. The key is to ensure that current Exchange customers can transition on their own terms.
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