Satya Nadella's brave new strategy: Can Microsoft execute?

Moderated by Larry Dignan | August 4, 2014 -- 07:00 GMT (00:00 PDT)

Summary: Six months into his tenure as CEO, Satya Nadella is already having a significant impact on Redmond's complacency. We debate the prospects for Nadella's Microsoft.

Ed Bott

Ed Bott

Yes

or

No

Steven J. Vaughan-Nichols

Steven J. Vaughan-Nichols

Best Argument: No

66%
34%

Audience Favored: Yes (66%)

The Rebuttal

  • Great Debate Moderator

    Are my debaters standing by?

    We'll be starting this live debate promptly at 11am ET/8am PT.

    Welcome, readers: As soon as the debate does start, this page will refresh automatically whenver a new question or answer is posted.

    Posted by Larry Dignan

    Ready here


    Ed Bott

    I am for Yes

    All set here


    Steven J. Vaughan-Nichols

    I am for No

  • Great Debate Moderator

    OK, first question:

    Microsoft's new strategy revolves around platforms and productivity. What do you see as the key assets for Microsoft?

    Posted by Larry Dignan

    Enterprise, Office, and the cloud

    Microsoft's greatest asset, of course, is the long-term loyalty of enterprise customers, who pay billions to run Microsoft software on their servers and desktop PCs. The revenue from Windows and Office volume licensing is like an annuity capable of funding a lot of investments in future products.

    Next, there’s Office itself, which is an amazingly valuable collection of products and a powerful brand. It’s been more of a cash cow in recent years than Windows. Bringing Office to the iPad earlier this year was a big deal and a key part of the company’s transformation to integrated services (OneDrive and Office together, for example) that work on every important platform.

    Finally, there are a decade (or more) of investments in cloud infrastructure worldwide. Microsoft’s infrastructure, best known through its Azure brand, is an enormous competitive advantage, one that can only be matched by an elite group of competitors.

     

    Ed Bott

    I am for Yes

    Microsoft is only one of many

    On the plus side, Microsoft has Azure for cloud. Microsoft bringing its applications to other mobile platforms may be a smart move. Enterprise software remains strong.

    Each advantage faces a challenge. With Azure, Microsoft faces strong opposition from Oracle, VMware, Amazon.  Microsoft is only one of many.

    Microsoft's own mobile platforms have failed to gain traction. So, while Microsoft is supporting Office 365, OneDrive, and Skype on Android and iOS devices, Microsoft faces strong competition from Google and others. Mobile is not the Windows space where Microsoft has a built-in audience.

    As for the enterprise Dan Frommer, Quartz's tech editor, observed, Google "has been coming on strong for years with lower-priced, cloud-based services such as email and calendars, productivity apps, video hangouts, and storage." Frommer argued that "Google is capturing Microsoft’s future customer base." He's right. Google makes money from search, it doesn't need to profit from enterprise services. Microsoft does.

     

    Steven J. Vaughan-Nichols

    I am for No

  • Great Debate Moderator

    Is Microsoft's mantra too vague to actually execute?


    Posted by Larry Dignan

    Forget the mantras; concentrate on the plans

    Unless you work for Microsoft—I don’t, and neither does my esteemed opponent—then we don’t really know what the detailed marching orders are, nor what the plans for the future look like.

    We’ve seen the public letters. We’ve heard catchphrases like “Mobile first, cloud first.” But those public statements are aimed at investors and consumers. They’re intentionally optimistic and often made from platitudes and corporate bafflegab.

    There’s a lot more happening inside the company. And knowing Nadella’s reputation as an engineer, I am confident it’s a plan, not a vague set of directions.


    And let’s make sure we agree on what this debate is about. Even if Microsoft has a diabolically smart strategy and executes it perfectly, there’s no guarantee that they’ll win. Ask the Yankees.

    But can Satya Nadella’s Microsoft succeed? Yes.

    Ed Bott

    I am for Yes

    It doesn't seem vague to me

    I mean, Microsoft is the company that gave us the term "vaporware." I don't see Nadella going down that road.

    Instead, I see him laying out a clear strategic plan. Sure saying that Microsoft "will reinvent productivity" is hyperbole, but everyone does some some of that in grand vision statements.

    No, the real question will be whether Microsoft can execute the plan.

     

    Steven J. Vaughan-Nichols

    I am for No

  • Great Debate Moderator

    Biggest challenges?

    Nadella has hit a steady cadence outlining the company's big picture. What do you see as the biggest challenges to making it happen?

    Posted by Larry Dignan

    Complacency and competition

    Like any big company, Microsoft has its own unique culture, which both defines its working style and dictates its internal politics. The worst impediments to change come from people who have mastered the art of maintaining their power, even at the cost of the organization’s health. Replacing them is a challenge.

    And then there are competitive challenges from big rivals, like Google and Apple and Samsung, and even more importantly from startups and small firms that can disrupt the competitive landscape. Microsoft has historically been slow to respond to those competitive challenges. So that’s a challenge.

     

    Ed Bott

    I am for Yes

    Competition, competition, and, oh did I mention, competition?

    On the PC, Microsoft had it all its own way. The company's now facing off against powerful cloud vendors, already established mobile super-powers, and would-be enterprise software vendors, such as Google, that don't require a profit from their enterprise efforts. Microsoft hasn't had to face off against equal, never mind superior, rivals in a generation.

    He also has to shake up all the development teams. They've been stuck going in circles for much too long.

    Simultaneously, Microsoft sees new engineering talent to support its cloud and mobile plans. Developers who spent the last five years work on Windows 8.x aren't going to help cloud development and mobile apps.

    Integrating these new people into an old, fat organization won't be easy!

     

    Steven J. Vaughan-Nichols

    I am for No

  • Great Debate Moderator

    What does Microsoft have to do to speed up product development?


    Posted by Larry Dignan

    They’re already doing that

    If you haven’t noticed the faster cadence at Microsoft, you haven’t been paying attention. Services like Azure, OneDrive, and Office 365 get new back-end features several times a year. The Office 365 client software gets an update every month.

    Even desktop Windows is getting in on the act. It used to be that Windows got a major upgrade every three years or so. Since Windows 8 was released less than two years ago, there have been two major updates, with significant new features and major architectural improvements. Another update is due this fall.

    As Windows 8.1 proves, these changes are being driven by customer feedback. What about enterprise customers, who can’t cope with the pace? I predict Microsoft will adopt a model similar to Ubuntu and Mozilla, with rapid updates for consumers and enthusiasts, and more stable Long Term Support versions so enterprise customers can roll out big changes annually, not monthly.

     

    Ed Bott

    I am for Yes

    Nadella gets it

    As I just said, they need new people who can handle the cloud and mobile applications. For example, Azure "DevOps" (Short for Developer Operations) is still coming together. Meanwhile, rival cloud offerings have multiple DevOps solutions, such as Puppet, Chef, and Juju. Microsoft has a lot of catching up to do.

    They also need to rid themselves of the internal developer battles. Microsoft can't afford another war between the Windows team and Microsoft's Developer Division.

    Nadella gets it. As he said in his memo, "We will streamline the engineering process and reduce the amount of time and energy it takes to get things done. You can expect to have fewer processes but more focused and measurable outcomes. You will see fewer people get involved in decisions and more emphasis on accountability." That's a great start.

     

    Steven J. Vaughan-Nichols

    I am for No

  • Great Debate Moderator

    How to modernize engineering?

    Nadella said Microsoft "will modernize our engineering processes to be customer-obsessed, data-driven, speed-oriented and quality-focused." What would you recommend Nadella do to modernize engineering?

    Posted by Larry Dignan

    Out with the old

    I would not presume to tell someone with Nadella’s engineering experience what he should or shouldn’t do.

    The most important goal is to become much more agile, delivering regular improvements, the kind that delight customers, without sacrificing security or reliability. Nadella’s direction involves letting go of old development models that aren’t appropriate for the current fast-paced competitive landscape, and adopting more modern ways.

    This kind of change requires genuine leadership. When Nadella led the Azure team, he and his team built the kind of organization that can serve as a model for the new Microsoft.

     

    Ed Bott

    I am for Yes

    Nadella already is working on modernizing engineering.

    He continued in his memo, "will see investments in two new or combined functions: Data and Applied Science and Software Engineering. Each engineering group will have Data and Applied Science resources that will focus on measurable outcomes for our products and predictive analysis of market trends, which will allow us to innovate more effectively. Software Engineering will evolve so that information can travel more quickly, with fewer breakpoints between the envisioning of a product or service and a quality delivery to customers. In making these changes we are getting closer to the customer and pushing more accountability throughout the organization."

    It all sounds good to me. But, can they do it? That's the multi-billion dollar question.

     

    Steven J. Vaughan-Nichols

    I am for No

  • Great Debate Moderator

    Culture change?

    Where does culture fit into the plan and can Nadella really change a company as massive as Microsoft?

    Posted by Larry Dignan

    It’s Job One

    Changing the culture is huge. It’s crucial to the success of the strategy and the speed of the change in direction.

    It’s also difficult.

    Nadella’s background as an engineer is his biggest asset here. He speaks fluent geek.

    And the fact that Microsoft’s biggest competitors are succeeding with a different, more agile way of working is the best motivation of all.

     

    Ed Bott

    I am for Yes

    Culture is everything.

    For over a decade, Microsoft has been mired in projects -- such as Vista, Windows 8, and Windows Phone -- that went nowhere. In large part that was because of a development process that paid little attention to what customers or partners wanted.

    Microsoft has also had a siloed developer culture where one team wouldn't pick up the phone to talk to another. This cannot continue. They must learn to work together.

    As a result, staunch Microsoft supporters like Paul Thurrott, said "Windows 8 is a disaster in every sense of the word."

    Microsoft must clean out its ears and listen to what both customers and partners want.

    I don't know if Nadella can change the course of a company as big as Microsoft. Monster companies, like IBM has shifted their paths before. Most giants, however --Compaq and DEC spring to mind -- can't.

     

    Steven J. Vaughan-Nichols

    I am for No

  • Great Debate Moderator

    Will layoffs help or hamper?

    How do you think Microsoft's recent layoffs will help or hamper the company's ability to deliver on Nadella's strategy?

    Posted by Larry Dignan

    Mostly they will help

    Forget the Nokia layoffs, which were expected as part of the integration of the two companies. The ones that matter are those 5,000 or so employees at Microsoft itself. And most of those job were eliminated as part of a change in the way the company builds products.

    The risk, of course, is that those layoffs will have a negative impact on morale, which in turn drags down productivity in a spiral. But assuming that these cuts were deep, quick, and not repeated, there’s time for recovery.

     

    Ed Bott

    I am for Yes

    A wash

    Internally, Microsoft made an extraordinarily smart move by finally axing its hated stack ranking employee rating system. On the other hand, while we know the former Nokia staff have taken the brunt of Microsoft's layoffs, there's still more layoffs to come and it appears they'll be happening over time. That's never good for morale.

    On the other hand, we have experts such as Michael Cusumano, a professor at MIT’s Sloan School of Management, telling the Financial Times,  “Microsoft has been bloated for 20 years, they have way more people in their product groups than they need. There’s still a long way to go even after these cuts. Reductions of as much as 80 percent are needed to end the feature-creep and complexity that have hurt the company’s products."

    I see it as a wash myself.

     

    Steven J. Vaughan-Nichols

    I am for No

  • Great Debate Moderator

    Simplify and move faster?

    Nadella said: "Every team across Microsoft must find ways to simplify and move faster, more efficiently. We will increase the fluidity of information and ideas by taking actions to flatten the organization and develop leaner business processes." How long will that chore take?

    Posted by Larry Dignan

    Welcome to nonstop change

    I don't think that the process of developing leaner, smarter ways of doing business should ever stop.

    The old Microsoft would have switched from an old, inefficient model to a new, more efficient one and then institutionalized it. The new Microsoft, if it wants to compete with some very powerful and aggressive rivals, needs to maintain a continuous improvement not just in its products but in the way it designs and builds those products.

    There is a big change that's happening now, accelerated by recent layoffs and major changes in the relationship among product management, developers, and test. If Nadella can't point to results from that set of changes by this time next year, then someone's not keeping up.

    Ed Bott

    I am for Yes

    Two years to transform Microsoft

    Well, for starters, he needs to hire better writers! OK, taking this to mean that he wants to make a leaner, meaner Microsoft. I see Nadella having two years to transform Microsoft. That's it.

    By 2016, we'll know if Microsoft is truly transforming itself into a 21st century company or if it's a declining giant.

    Can he, or anyone else, do it in that length of time? I doubt it. I think Microsoft stuck with Ballmer for much too long.

    Microsoft will remain a power for years to come. But, to be a leading power, I see their moment of opportunity closing quickly.

     

    Steven J. Vaughan-Nichols

    I am for No

  • Great Debate Moderator

    What are the top three reasons Microsoft will fail to execute on Nadella's strategy?


    Posted by Larry Dignan

    Connecting with consumers, competing with Google

    There are three worst-case scenarios in Microsoft's future.

    • If they can't connect with consumers... In that case, Microsoft gets to survive as a boring legacy company that runs servers for Big Businesses. Solid business, growth potential, but more Oracle than Apple.

    • If they can't connect with next-generation businesses... Over the next few years, a new generation of management will move into executive suites in the Fortune 50 and Big Business in general. They’ve been raised on Apple hardware and Google services. If they’re willing to drop Microsoft's core products, Redmond has a big problem.

    • If they can't compete against Google's search monopoly... Google's willing to tie its search services to Android is a formidable advantage. And there’s no guarantee antitrust regulators will help out.

    Remember, the question in this debate is not whether Microsoft will succeed, but rather whether they can succeed. Of that, there’s no question in my mind.

    Ed Bott

    I am for Yes

    Three reasons...

    A) Microsoft's programming culture simply won't change fast enough. Corporate inertia is a terrible thing.

    B) Microsoft won't pick up new staffers with the right skills fast enough. Face it, ASP.NET is fine for Windows Server, but it's not going to get you too far on the cloud or in iPhones.

    C) Disorganization in the ranks. Remember, it's not just Nadella. Microsoft also has a new chairman, John Thompson; a relatively new corporate organization; and, by the way, Bill Gates is now Microsoft's Technology Advisor. If they can't work together in harmony, bad, bad times are ahead for Microsoft.

    Steven J. Vaughan-Nichols

    I am for No

  • Great Debate Moderator

    What are the top three reasons Microsoft will succeed?


    Posted by Larry Dignan

    Powerful momentum can pay for a lot of future change

    First, there's execution. Say what you will about Steve Ballmer, but he left Satya Nadella with a company that ships product on time and gets paid well for it. Their ability to deliver new versions of core products is exceptional. The last failure of execution was Windows Vista, and the team that created that mess was replaced more than eight years ago. (Windows 8’s problems are in design and evolution of the ecosystem.)

    Second, cloud leadership. Back in 2007, I remember talking to Microsoft engineers who were working on top-secret projects that became what we now know as Office 365. The company has invested billions of dollars in software and infrastructure, and those investments are due to begin paying off.

    And finally there’s enterprise loyalty. Enterprise customers might grumble, but when all is said and done they keep signing contracts, because Microsoft’s core products work.

     

    Ed Bott

    I am for Yes

    Three reasons...

    A) The developer teams hit the ground running and make Microsoft relevant in cloud and mobile.

    B) The programmers work together smoothly instead of feuding with each other and create new, innovative products quickly.

    C) Everyone unites behind Nadella and his vision instead of playing political games.

    Steven J. Vaughan-Nichols

    I am for No

  • Great Debate Moderator

    Azure and cloud efforts?

    How important is the success of Azure and cloud efforts to the Nadella strategy?

    Posted by Larry Dignan

    It’s crucial, obviously

    Microsoft has spent tens of billions of dollars building a cloud infrastructure that only Amazon and Google can compete with. And it’s making a legitimate case to convert existing customers of physical, on-premises servers to the same product, running in the cloud.

    I have yet to hear from anyone who uses Azure that doesn’t love it. And it’s evolving enormously fast, surprising critics who claim Microsoft is old and slow.

    Ed Bott

    I am for Yes

    It's essential.

    I have real doubts about Microsoft's ability to make mobile work, but Azure is good. I think with the proper backing, support, and DevOps tools, Azure can be a contender in private, hybrid, and public clouds.

    Microsoft really doesn't have much time to get Azure into companies though. The cloud isn't hype anymore. It's the real thing and lots of real companies, such as Amazon, Red Hat, and VMware are already there and making enterprise sales.

    If Microsoft ends up a distant third in the business cloud, the way it has in mobile, Microsoft's future isn't going to look very good at all.

     

    Steven J. Vaughan-Nichols

    I am for No

  • Great Debate Moderator

    OK, time for one more question:

    Do you think Nadella has the backing and chops to make tough decisions like a spin-off of Xbox or divesting businesses that don't quite fit with the platform and productivity mantra?

    Posted by Larry Dignan

    We’ll see...

    Does he have the chops? Yes.

    Does he have the backing of his board and outside investors? I think so. The biggest wild card is the influence of Gates and Ballmer, who could try to veto any big change. I think Gates has really become a senior advisor and is far more interested in changing the world with his foundation. And Ballmer is unlikely to have the desire to weigh back in; he knows it’s not his company anymore.

    The rest of Microsoft’s board is solid and they still have confidence in Nadella.

    Ed Bott

    I am for Yes

    The right CEO for Microsoft

    Well, Nadella already has thrown half of Nokia out so he's shown he can make killer decisions. Nomura Research wanted Microsoft to dump Xbox and Bing last year. I don't see a whole lot of point in keeping them, but Nadella wants to keep them for now.

    I'd like to think that he has the nerve to spin Xbox off, just dump Bing, or throw Windows RT out with the trash. If he doesn't have that kind of nerve, he's not the CEO Microsoft needed.

    Whether Thompson or Gates will let him is another question. Hopefully for Microsoft, it won't come to that.

    I do think Nadella's the right CEO for Microsoft. My real question is whether he's gotten the job with enough support and time to transform Microsoft. I fear he has neither.

     

    Steven J. Vaughan-Nichols

    I am for No

  • Great Debate Moderator

    Debaters, thanks for a Great Debate

    And readers, thanks for following along. Please circle back tomorrow to review our debaters' closing arguments. On Thursday, I will issue my final verdict.

    Posted by Larry Dignan

Talkback

78 comments
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  • Progress is already being made in this direction

    The cloud services are going to keep growing and the current trend of mobile apps to every platform is already well underway. While Windows Phone isn't a towering success, it is a great OS. Whether or not it ever gains a sizable market will matter less as Universal apps become more standard for developers.
    grayknight
    Reply 6 Votes I'm for Yes
    • MS Has Demonstrated An Unwillingness To Change...

      Satya walked into a lion's den. If he tries to change MS the old guard will do everything possible to make his days as CEO short lived.

      If he doesn't do enough to please the share holders they will call for his head.

      This is known colloquially as a "Lose-Lose Proposition".

      Personally, I think the only reason he's CEO is because nobody else wanted to be in the hot seat.
      orandy
      Reply 9 Votes I'm Undecided
      • Your posts are a joke

        You're just a MS hater. Nothing here, folks. Just move on.
        ahy-nonimous
        Reply 11 Votes I'm Undecided
      • Don’t underestimate Microsoft

        Here's Why :

        Microsoft is frequently criticized for being late in adapting to the smartphone/mobility trend. In some areas, Microsoft is suffering from success. The large installed base using both Windows and Office resist change, simply because change requires a new learning curve. But Microsoft is currently resisting the temptation to be held back by this inertia, and is positioned to do better than most expect, even rising to parity with Apple and Google in mobile devices and search.

        Apple has shown the way in smartphones, of course, but in a way that has limitations. They have a separate smartphone and PC OS, and their focus with iOS has been on using Web information and services, not productivity applications. Google’s Android, like iOS, is limited to mobile devices, and Google’s support of PCs is largely through the Web browser with Web search. The limitation of this dual approach is that, ultimately, users will want as much of the functionality they enjoy on their PC always available on their mobile device, without a significant learning curve.

        This desire will be further driven by companies increasingly supporting internal business applications through mobile devices, the “consumerization of IT.” Both Google and Apple have minimal experience supporting enterprise IT compared to Microsoft.

        Today, Microsoft is leading the way toward the convergence of PC and mobile functions with an OS that is essentially the same on PCs and mobile devices. Microsoft.s being late to mobile has indirectly been an advantage, in that they are entering the fray at a point where the computing capabilities of the mobile devices have reached the point where they can support more complex operating systems, an option not possible when iOS and Android were launched. Microsoft also supports its market-leading productivity applications on mobile devices by strategies such as accessory keyboards tightly integrated with their tablets and the cloud-based Office 365.

        Microsoft also has an entry in the search space through Bing, and Apple’s Siri defaults to Bing rather than Google when it can’t answer an inquiry directly. And the active tiles in Windows 8, with proactive notifications, are a less-intrusive competitor to Google Now.

        Microsoft is coming from behind in mobility, but it is notable that they have an entry in all the key areas. Microsoft has invested for decades in technologies such as speech recognition and natural language understanding, and has the core technology to move ahead strongly in areas becoming increasingly important such as voice interaction in automobiles and with mobile devices. The company even has an early and strong entry in Smart TVs through its Xbox franchise, which it is turning into a full entertainment interface supporting both gesture and voice control.

        Intelligent interfaces such as personal assistants could unify much of this diversity of devices, applications, and Web services. Microsoft not only has core capabilities in intelligent interfaces, but upper management has publicly endorsed such interfaces as strategic priorities under the heading of “machine learning.”

        Microsoft may be coming from behind in some areas, but they have the horsepower and resources to catch up. Their unified approach to PCs and mobile devices and top-level endorsement of machine learning might even be categorized as showing leadership. If Microsoft’s long-term vision is the right one, we might be asking in a few years why Apple and Google didn’t see it.
        Anonymous1511
        Reply 10 Votes I'm Undecided
        • Couldn't agree more!

          I'd only add that Microsoft is a good marketing campaign from being really competitive in the consumer space occupied by Apple. My family and I invested in Surfaces (ARM versions) and are quite happy with their performance and, most importantly, consistency and portability across devices. Our Xbox One uses the same login as our Surface Tablets and Lumia phones, syncing to our OneDrive accounts without a hitch. If I were to lose or damage my Surface, I simply log into any Surface connected to the cloud and my settings automatically follow me. It's amazing stuff.
          idenchasy
          Reply Vote I'm Undecided
      • Structure within Microsft has already been changed

        and changed further with the layoffs. Microsoft has been changing and is no longer what it was. Need proof? Windows Phone is getting updates at a faster pace, Windows is getting updates/changes at a faster pace, Azure is regularly updated, Office 365 is updated. Microsoft is now a much faster company than it was 10 years ago.
        grayknight
        Reply Vote I'm Undecided
      • Your as moronic as SJVN. And thats a bad thing.

        Just below I have reproduced the single most telling comment in SJVN's position:

        "Microsoft … the productivity and platform company for the mobile-first and cloud-first world" assumes that Microsoft can become a mobile and cloud powerhouse. Why should we believe that?"

        This is a real "prime cut" of SJVN's thinking of when it comes to Microsoft. The perfect example why he never really quite gets anything right about Microsoft. Even when he jumps onboard some anti-Microsoft gravy train that appears to have already left the station, he always needs to take it much farther then logical minds would suggest is reasonable.

        "assumes that Microsoft can become a mobile and cloud powerhouse. Why should we believe that?"

        Well, lets just start this off. As SJVN really gives no reason at all why we shouldn't believe that, unless you count his pointing out that Android was on 85 percent of smartphones sold in the last quarter and Windows phone was 35, and if you think that for some reason that is where such an argument begins and ends, you live in a very weird world and probably shouldn't be commenting on IT matters at all.

        Go to any successful and responsible CEO in the world and say, "although we are a top line major player in this industry, we cant become a powerhouse in the new direction the industry is taking because another company has 85% of the market and we currently only have 3%".

        Ya. Go ahead and say that. You will probably get something lopped off your body you may want access to later in life. Ridiculous.

        Just ad into that the fact that in this particular industry, that of IT generally, mobile platforms is where the future is going to largely be 20 years from now. Most computers that are not considered mobile will probably be some monster of a thing in a nitrogen cooled room doing calculations for time travel. Otherwise bet your bottom dollar that eventually you will be carrying around a device that will do anything and everything and when doing any 'heavy lifting' will simply be dropped into a docking system for convenience. However that docking system of the future may work.

        Despite the claims of SJVN, Microsoft is definitely not stupid. The Microsoft haters might just as well face that reality if they prefer working with real knowledge and truth as opposed to simply hating and wishing. Knowledge is indeed king, keep it in mind if you like getting as close to the right answer in life as possible.

        Microsoft understands completely where we are headed long term, and that is eventually when hardware is up to the task, a completely mobile cloud based computing environment. There is no mistaking this, they are working full time in cloud development right now and coming up with clever ways to gradually ease us into a cloud based computing environment. If you don't think they will make it happen then you are again dreaming. It will happen.

        Someone who comes onto ZDNet and basically starts saying they don't think Microsoft will make it in mobile is essentially saying Microsoft is going to be finished as the company they are today in the very near future. Billions on billions of dollars worth of massive top tier IT enterprise go down the tubes. Unless of course Microsoft becomes a widget maker or something different to save the last vestiges of the company before it all goes down the drain.

        And sure, obtuse and biased people like SJVN will sit around and say "sure, that could happen, why cant Microsoft go belly up? Any company can." Firstly, if you just go around saying any company can go belly up, again your simply showing your lack of business and economics credentials. And, its one of those situations where if you think those kinds of things your so uneducated on the subject you have no clue just how poorly educated you actually are on the subject. Some companies, if they were to go belly up would have some catastrophic ripple effects generally throughout the world and Microsoft is one of them. Im not going to take up another 5 paragraphs explaining that, if you just don't get it, have someone explain it to you that does understand it.

        Microsoft is highly unlikely to run out of money pursuing the mobility/cloud goal. If you don't understand why, again its just a fact, get someone to explain it to you. Microsoft is massively driven to succeed in this area, to not do so would be disastrous and there is no reason that with enough time and money they couldn't succeed, unless your some kind of moron who just figures that if Google is leading, it, unlike any other market leader in various industries around the world, that the market leader can never be broken in mobile. Its highly unlikely in almost any case that its impossible to break a market leader in almost any industry, and where it becomes more possible than ever is when the competition is already entrenched in the industry generally and has vast monetary and R&D resources to draw upon. And, as in this case is motivated to the highest possible levels.

        These things should be quite evident, obviously evident. They are not even complex theoretical business ideas, they are practically little more that obvious tried and true realities of life. Even the likes of biased SJVN must know these realities about business and the IT industry generally.

        Thus, SJVN asking "...assumes that Microsoft can become a mobile and cloud powerhouse. Why should we believe that?" Is a ridiculous question. You should obviously assume they could become a powerhouse because they have boatloads of money, decades of experience in the industry, resources of every kind and more determination and motivation to get the job done then any man who has to either sink or learn how to swim. That's why. What stupidity to ask "why should we believe that?" when the most obvious and simple reasons are right in front of the very eyes of anyone who has even a meager understanding of the IT industry.

        And in particular, when the best ideology SJVN seems to use for thinking Microsoft cannot become a powerhouse in mobile is because right now Google is and Microsoft definitely in not. That's a great argument if he was talking about a company with shaky financial underpinnings and little experience in the industry with only reserved motivations about success. It ridiculous when made about Microsoft and their very future in the IT industry.

        Want to know WHY we should believe they will make it? Because there is actually an easy "how they will make it". And they are already on their way down that very road.

        We know, again, as fact, that Microsoft is heavily into cloud computing development and integrating operating systems between platforms. We know that mobile is the future and we know hardware is still advancing, particularly miniaturization for mobile applications.

        In case there is still anyone out there who dosnt know what this means Microsoft intends to do..I will tell you.

        In about a dozen years from now, give or take, your entire Windows desktop environment, if they still call it Windows then, they might, will be on some device as powerful or more powerful then todays top of the line full desktop quad core (or more) system with scads of ram and a high end GPU, in a device that's small enough to be a smartphone. In whatever configuration will provide for that kind of performance in the future.

        With the assistance of full on cloud computing you will gradually find the Windows desktop you will still be relying on for work and play at home is suddenly all in a device that you take with you. And, it will be able to act as a mobile communications device as well obviously. And at that point, your desktop will indeed become your phone and its all in one. It seriously diminishes the need for any kind of stinky old Android phone if your bringing your entire Windows computer with you and its already a phone clipped to the inside of your coat.

        That's how Microsoft could become a mobile powerhouse and its not by coincidence that's exactly where they are headed and are in the early stages of the groundwork for the future transition to this kind of computing world.

        SJVN. Wow. The things he writes are astounding. How anyone can say he had the better argument is beyond comprehension. Anyone who said that has to be as blind to reality as he is.
        Cayble
        Reply 2 Votes I'm Undecided
        • I've come to believe SJVN to be a fake

          Seriously, if he's really that entrenched in the technology he discusses on, then even he has to know the silliness of much of the stuff he says.

          If he really does believe the stuff he says and is being sincere, well then, maybe he should take off the blinders, look around, learn some things about the century he's living in.

          LOL! What am I saying? Sorry, had a moment there....
          William.Farrel
          Reply Vote I'm Undecided
  • Sorry SJVN but your analysis is lame.

    The only android player who matters is Samsung. Number 1 or number 2 (depending on whether you are talking to Apple or to Samsung).

    I've read 4 percent for Microsoft but either way, that is still #3 in the smartphone camp - with severely-crippled BlackBerry at #4.

    Neither Google nor Amazon want to put their resources up against Microsoft (who can out-spend and out-litigate them).

    No one seems to take the Surface Pro 3 seriously - EXCEPT APPLE who has aggressively lowered the price and raised the specifications of the popular MacBook Air (and more recently the MacBook Pro). Why would Apple do that if they didn't believe that the Surface Pro 3 was a serious competitor.

    Then there is the cloud. Sure, AWS got a good head start on Microsoft. It's the same with the Kindle Fire tablet. So did Apple, with the iPad. So?

    No matter how you slice it, the cloud is spread out through enterprise machine rooms all over the world. Whether those machine rooms are running Azure, or Citrix, or VMware. The bulk of them are running Windows Servers. Many others are running Linux servers.

    NONE are running Android servers, none are running Apple servers.

    In the end, even if Microsoft stays right where it is in smartphones (#3) and in tablets (#3? #4? #5). Microsoft will dominate the cloud for the foreseeable future.
    M Wagner
    Reply 10 Votes I'm for Yes
    • You made a mistake

      Others do it a lot of times.
      Android OEMs are not the equivalent of Microsoft in the Windows ecosystem. They are the same as HP, Lenovo, Asus, Acer, ... How much money do they make there? A fraction of the money OEMs make with android I'm sure (I don't have numbers, I might be wrong, but don't think so). Lenovo made an average of $7 for each laptop sold! (after operation expenses).

      If surface or smartphones devices or even mobile ecosystem penetration are fundamental for the new Microsoft, I think they will struggle... but I don't think they need it to succeed (and they need to deliver services for those platforms, they just don't need to own it).

      Any Apple competitor has close to zero chances of succeeding in the high profitable market, without numbers Nokia and Surface brand will be money losing machines for the years to come.
      AleMartin
      Reply 3 Votes I'm Undecided