Steven J. Vaughan-Nichols
Best Argument: No
Audience Favored: Yes (66%)
Bet against Microsoft at your own peril
If you feel like you stepped into a time machine during this debate, it’s not your imagination.
My opponent’s perceptions of Microsoft were formed decades ago, and nothing’s going to dislodge his outdated prejudices.
So please allow me to focus the argument back on the central question of this debate: Can Microsoft execute on Satya Nadella’s strategy?
Yes, they can. This is a company that has done remarkable things with Azure and Office 365, which are only two of the 16 billion-dollar businesses at Microsoft. My opponent’s loathing of Windows 8 is so profound that he forgets that Windows is no longer the primary profit engine at Microsoft. Windows 8 is a fraction of just one of those billion-dollar businesses.
For the past five years, Microsoft has been building an enviable cloud-based portfolio under the leadership of the man who is now CEO. Bet against him at your own peril.
Right guys can finish last
Steven J. Vaughan-Nichols
Nadella is the right CEO for Microsoft. He has a vision and the engineering and leadership chops to make it happen.
What I don't think he has is time.
Under Ballmer, Microsoft's squandered its strategic advantages. Today, people still think of Microsoft as the Windows PC company. That was fine in the 00s, but we're in the 10s now. Today, Microsoft is the Windows 8.x's company. Yuck!
Microsoft's in-house mobile efforts have come to nothing. Bringing Office to other platforms, far from enabling Microsoft to "start printing money," appears -- according to Jan Dawson, chief analyst at Jackdaw Research -- to have gone nowhere. Microsoft is only one of many cloud players. Azure is good, but better than OpenStack, AWS? No.
Ed worries that Microsoft can't connect with consumers or new business leadership, and about Google's competition. He's right to worry. All three factors will add up to Microsoft becoming a dull legacy company.
The challenges are formidable.
The question that anchored this debate was almost impossible to answer without a crystal ball. In theory, Microsoft can execute and everyone seems to be rooting for CEO Satya Nadella. What's unclear is whether Microsoft will be able to execute. The challenges are formidable.
Overall, Steven Vaughan-Nichols won the argument by a slim margin over Ed Bott. Both had solid arguments and the two debaters actually agreed (for once) that Azure was strong. The argument that Nadella's challenges outweigh his support and time window won out. After all, there are a lot of fix-it jobs to do after Steve Ballmer.
Vaughan-Nichols gets the win.