The new Microsoft: Impressively fast

Significant change is underway in Redmond, with Microsoft reshaping itself to meet current market conditions. The most impressive change is how fast it is moving to address customer demands.
Written by James Kendrick, Contributor

Anyone who has followed Microsoft for very long can tell you that moving fast has never been the company's strong point. The gigantic infrastructure consisting of separate business units has long led to slow, plodding change. That has to change to keep up with the rapid pace of the mobile space. Impressively, moving quickly is what we are seeing Microsoft not only attempt, but doing well.

Image: Jason Perlow/ZDNet

Those of us who have worked closely with Microsoft for years know all too well how slowly the company has always moved. Having served as a Tablet PC MVP for seven years, I saw this slow, plodding Microsoft too many times. Even when rapid change was required, the company often would still take its time to alter the status quo. Opportunities were often missed as a result of the lack of internal speed.

Until recently, the company had been so large for so long it was no surprise nothing ever seemed to happen quickly. Just getting one team to meet with another on the Microsoft campus often required a shuttle bus. Yes, the campus is so big that buses are required to get workers from one side to another.

Having seen this in person for so long, I was skeptical every time I heard that internal operation was going to speed up. I admit I didn't think this was possible.

That's why I am so impressed with how quickly Microsoft has rebuilt itself in the area of devices and services. I was amazed at how quickly the Windows 8.1 update followed the original Windows 8 release. I was floored how fast the Windows 8.1 Update followed that. What made this so impressive was that both of those Windows updates were largely reacting to customer feedback to what came before. 

Microsoft was actually listening to its customer base and releasing fixes as a result, and in the past that didn't always seem to be the case. This happened in months instead of years as it would have taken not that long ago.

Mary Jo Foley reported that Microsoft intends to move even faster for updates in the future. That will be quite a feat but based on its performance in the recent past, it just might pull this off.

That the behemoth in Redmond can now move so quickly is a clear sign of how strongly it is committed to change. There are still multiple business units in the company, but it's obvious they are now not only communicating, but working closely together. Things couldn't be happening so quickly otherwise. Those familiar with Microsoft know this alone is a significant change.

Kudos to you, Microsoft, for admitting what had to be done and then doing it. We're already seeing the benefits of the change and how fast you are making it happen. There are few industries that change as quickly as the mobile space, and your speed will go a long way to achieve success.

Let's give credit where it's due. This big change isn't solely due to new CEO Satya Nadella. The process started under Steve Ballmer, who paved the way for the new Microsoft. It may be one of the most important things Ballmer did during his tenure at the helm of the big ship that is Microsoft.

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