Here are five small but meaningful details that caught my attention.
1. Microsoft isn’t doing things the old way anymore.
Nadella introduces the section on Microsoft’s core with a pointed reference to devices and services strategy:
While the devices and services description was helpful in starting our transformation, we now need to hone in on our unique strategy.
2. Microsoft’s future is about experiences, not products or services.
The two most commonly used words in this long missive are work and experience, often in combination: the phrase digital work and life experiences appears no fewer than 10 times. That’s roughly the point when a theme turns to a mantra.
We help people get stuff done is the folksy version of that vision. That casual phrasing is much more likely to resonate with consumers. In fact, the word tuff is repeated throughout that paragraph with great rhetorical effect, using examples ranging from the purely personal (chatting with friends and family) to creative (painting and poetry) to very big business (keeping an entire city running) and world-changing achievements (helping build a vaccine for HIV).
We will think of every user as a potential “dual user” people who will use technology for their work or school and also deeply use it in their personal digital life.
The vision, ambitious to be sure, is for apps to help us achieve that elusive work-life balance, to partition data between work and life and with the respect for each person’s privacy choices.
3. Windows 13, Office 2.
If you’re keeping score at home, Nadella mentions Windows 13 times in this roadmap. Windows on the desktop,
Windows the device OS, Windows Server, Windows Phone, with Windows Universal Apps tying all those screens together in the Windows ecosystem. It’s the single most-mentioned Microsoft brand, which is at least partial evidence that Windows is not
scheduled for retirement anytime soon.
By contrast, Azure and Skype each get three mentions, with Skype Translator getting a shout-out as a product that will change the world.
Xbox gets six mentions in a longish paragraph containing â€œthoughts on Xbox and its importance to Microsoft.â€ The remarks are clearly intended to silence critics who say the company should spin it off:
The single biggest digital life category, measured in both time and money spent, in a mobile-first world is gaming. We are fortunate to have Xbox in our family to go after this opportunityâ€¦ We also benefit from many technologies flowing from our gaming efforts into our productivity effortsâ€¦.
Meanwhile Office and Office 365 are dismissed in a single sentence. That’s no doubt just a tribute to a smooth-running division that is the faste rusee t growing within the business.
4. If you’re an engineer, prepare for some changes.
Every Microsoft employee is used to frequent reorganizations, usually built around changes in management as executives rise and fall in the corporate power structure. But the next reorg, hinted at in this memo, might be more radical than political. Over the course of July, Nadella says, the Senior Leadership Team and I will share more on the engineering and organization changes we believe are needed.
That means an even faster pace:
In order to deliver the experiences our customers need for the mobile-first and cloud-first world, we will modernize our engineering processes to be customer-obsessed, data-driven, speed-oriented and quality-focused. We will streamline the engineering process and reduce the amount of time and energy it takes to get things done.
5. Microsoft increasingly plays on a global stage.
The word world appears in Nadella’s letter two dozen times. It’s a new world, a changing and evolving world, and, repeatedly, mobile-first and cloud-first world, which appears under the bold heading, Our Worldview.
It’s a fairly candid recognition that the growth of technology, and opportunities for Microsoft and its shareholders, will come by providing experiences for that next billion devices in emerging markets.
Thereâ€™s no question that Microsoft expects to continue to focus on its enterprise customers, especially by moving them from on-premises software to the cloud, specifically Azure
All of these apps will be explicitly engineered so anybody can find, try and then buy them in friction-free ways.Â They will be built for other ecosystems so as people move from device to device, so will their content and the richness of their services “ it’s one way we keep people, not devices, at the center.