Microsoft's new mission statement: No more computer on every desk

Microsoft's new mission statement: No more computer on every desk

Summary: CEO Steve Ballmer's last shareholder letter spells out Microsoft's new (and verbose) mission statement for the coming fiscal year.


Microsoft used to have a succinct mission statement: Put "a computer on every desk and in every home."


Its new one is more of a mouthful. Outgoing CEO Steve Ballmer called it out in his final shareholder letter, which is part of Microsoft's Annual Report for 2013, which the company published on its investor site on October 7. Ballmer used last year's letter to shareholders to communicate the idea that Microsoft planned to morph from a software company to a devices and services company

Microsoft's new corporate mission for 2013 and beyond is "to create a family of devices and services for individuals and businesses that empower people around the globe at home, at work and on the go, for the activities they value most."

I'd humbly suggest a slightly shorter version: "Create a family of devices and services for individuals and businesses."

But I understand why Ballmer and other Softies keep dwelling on the "activities they value most" part of the new equation. This is shorthand for Microsoft management's belief that the consumerization of IT is real and here to stay. Mail is neither a consumer nor a business app; it's both. Ditto with instant messaging/video chat, notetaking and basic document creation, Microsoft execs maintain. This belief is key to why Microsoft execs insist they need to be in both the consumer and enterprise business and both the device and services business.

Microsoft management's contention is Microsoft needs to be a provider of technology from consumer device to enterprise service and control the entire end-to-end stack and experience. If Microsoft doesn't do this, the top brass claims, there's a risk that one of the other leaders may box the company out, by refusing to support Microsoft's hardware, software and services — something that Google already has done in some cases.

Microsoft wants to be more like Apple on the consumer and devices front, and more like Google and Amazon on the services front. Those are two different business models. I, myself, am not sure that a single company — even a "One Microsoft" — can serve both masters.

But at least for now, Microsoft is moving full steam ahead with its plans to be all things to all users. The coming fiscal year should be an interesting one. It will be interesting to go back and compare Microsoft's new goal with what Microsoft, with a new CEO, a new phone-manufacturing arm, and an evolving tablet/device business look like in fall 2014.

Any suggestions for the 'Soft for a pithier, shorter mission statement for the year ahead?

Topics: Steve Ballmer: The Exit Interview, Cloud, Microsoft, Mobility, Nokia, Tablets, PCs


Mary Jo has covered the tech industry for 30 years for a variety of publications and Web sites, and is a frequent guest on radio, TV and podcasts, speaking about all things Microsoft-related. She is the author of Microsoft 2.0: How Microsoft plans to stay relevant in the post-Gates era (John Wiley & Sons, 2008).

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  • I'll Try

    Make devices and services people like and will pay for.
    • They did.

      - Xbox 360/One, Surface RT (Maybe), Surface Pro
      - Xbox Live, and Office 365
      • Xbox only

        Few are paying for Surface, Few are paying for Windows Turd, err, phone.
        • Enough with the Haterade

          I know you hate Microsoft, but Jesus Christ, stop being so immature.

          Windows Turd? POS Office Apps?

          I'm not calling Android Crapdroid or Linux LinSux, am I?
          • LOL

            "I'm not calling Android Crapdroid or Linux LinSux, am I?"

            I think you just did....
          • Linux LinSux?

            You do know, oh Great One, that the original Windows of Ancient History was based on the Linux Kernel. LinSux? If so, then it follows WinSux!
          • in reply to :Enough with the Haterade

            "I know you hate Microsoft, but Jesus Christ, stop being so immature.
            Windows Turd? POS Office Apps?
            'm not calling Android Crapdroid or Linux LinSux, am I?"

            well lets see.. iOS is a unix bi-product thats a cousin to linux so be careful about what you say about open source (We can say Crapple).
            Mike Houlden
          • Dude, he's a Windows Fanboy.

            So why bring another OS (iOS) into it? You can always tell the Windows fanboys, they lower the conversation to a hate lever real quick. Talking to them is like talking to Democrats, they claim to always know better.
            I hate trolls also
          • Windows fan-boy?

            "You can always tell the Windows fanboys, they lower the conversation to a hate lever real quick. Talking to them is like talking to Democrats, they claim to always know better."

            What about Mr. itguy10 right over there?

            Ironic how you accuse me of pulling the hate lever, despite him being the problem.

            And you even brought politics into here.

            Not only are you selectively blind, but you've just made the problem worse.
          • He's ignorant, but you're worse

            You knowingly lie, while you idols spread F.U.D. Microsoft also scans every email, I believe the ISP do it too. Microsoft admitted to storing your emails, texts, skype conversations "UNENCRYPTED", so when the NSA comes knocking they can just "hand it over".
            I hate trolls also
          • MEANING?

            How 'bout somethin' that MEANS SOMETHING? HUHM?

            (What, exactly, is so bad about Trolls anyway)?
          • Stereotypes and hate levels

            There's nothing quite like stereotyping and over-generalised comments to illustrate intellectual laziness. Windows fanboys (why not fangirls too?), Apple fanboys, Linux fanboys, Democrats...

            You, Sir, also seem to be hating and claiming to know better - "Talking to them is like talking to Democrats, they claim to always know better.". My irony meter has broken. Cheers.
          • Can we please restrict the partisan politics...

   articles where it's actually relevant?
            John L. Ries
          • Thiught This WAS 'Bout Polotics!

            My BAD.

            But, really, please say something meaningful concerning the reason I (and other) are here. You can call Talk Radio and express you political views there. What are your thoughts on the relevant subject (or do you not have any thoughts, in which case, please call Talk Radio where there are a couple of people without any thoughts).
          • highlighting facts is somehow "Ironic"

            I never claimed to "Know better", or "Know Everything". As for the comment on Democrats, they'll "Bargain, and Negotiate" with "The Great Islamic Republic of Iran", who supports terrorists, then call the House of Representatives a group of terrorists. That is a case of Irony. When The Obama Regime says it supports the FSA, and seeks to arm them, even though better than 25% of the "FSA" is Al Queda. The same democrats that want to take my rifle away, yet arm the Mexican Drug cartels.
            I hate trolls also
          • Speaking of was your great Reagan who.....

            Armed Osama Bin Laden and the Taliban to the Teeth, sir.

            And look at the price we paid for the training, money and arms to them from what Republicans try to push through as one of our "greatest" presidents. HA.

            He committed crimes just like his republican predecessors and later successors.
            Seems the republicans, who are pulling George Michael like maneveurs in mens restrooms or telling their wives they are "hiking the Appalachian trail" somehow find a sex scandal as reason for impeachment and act outraged over it as though it were the most horrible crime imaginable. they have even talked about impeachment of Obama with zero grounds, but then all of them are arming or going to war on false pretenses. Imagine if your children were killed by aimless barrage of weapons and then labeled as "collateral damage" by an aggressor against your country and the outrage you would have? How many American ever shed one tear or greived for one second for the 10s of thousands of Iraqi women and children who were killed in what was nothing short of the flaunting of American weapons with no regard for life. Incredible that you could even utter those words.
            And what woudl you call the Contra rebels, sir? Reagan had to resort to "White Propaganda" to try and cover up the horrible acts of these rebels.
            Irony indeed.
          • Please SHUT UP!

            Say something relevant or just go home. Thanks
          • Talk Radio Is Waiting For Your Call!

            Call Talk Radio where you can blab with a couple other non-thinkers. While you are HERE, say something meaningful about the relevant subject, please.
          • Or Republicans!

            Both CLAIM to know what's best for the rest of us. HUHM?
          • Sorry, Mike...

            Jesus does NOT fit into this equation at all, & some of us find your choice of terms quite offensive. Please refrain from taking our Lord's name in vain. Thank you.