Microsoft CEO Nadella: Windows is over, the future is mobile and the cloud

In case you were wondering where Windows stood in Microsoft's future, CEO Satya Nadella just made it clear: Windows is the past; mobile and the cloud are the future. Today he laid out his vision for the future of Microsoft to the company's employees, and Windows barely even rated a mention.

The memo, "Bold Ambition & Our Core" was sent to all Microsoft employees and posted on Microsoft's Web site. It's not a quick read, and is filled with the usual business-speak, cheerleading, and hype.

However, if you take the time to read it, and read between the lines, he's very clearly setting a new direction for the company, different even than the one Steve Ballmer set about a year ago when he said that the future of the company was in devices and services. In fact, Nadella explicitly says it's time for a change in direction from that:

"More recently, we have described ourselves as a 'devices and services' company. While the devices and services description was helpful in starting our transformation, we now need to hone in on our unique strategy."

So what is the new direction? It's a bit vague and hazy, but it's clearly not tied to Windows. In fact, he doesn't even get to mentioning desktop Windows until the 21st paragraph. Even then, he gives Android and iOS equal play with Windows, because he talks about the company's Enterprise Mobility Suite, which in his words enables "IT organizations to manage and secure the Windows, iOS and Android devices that their employees use, while keeping their companies secure."

The new direction, though, is clearly tied to mobile and the cloud. The very first sentence of the memo is this:

"We live in a mobile-first and cloud-first world."

Later on, he writes:

"Our passion is to enable people to thrive in this mobile-first and cloud-first world."

And here's the sentence in which he sums up Microsoft's new direction:

"At our core, Microsoft is the productivity and platform company for the mobile-first and cloud-first world. We will reinvent productivity to empower every person and every organization on the planet to do more and achieve more."

Yes, I know, that's a lot of big words strung together in a vague-sounding way, and you can interpret them almost any way you want. However, it does make clear that Windows is Microsoft's past, and that mobile and the cloud is its future. And that, in itself, is a very big change in the company's direction.

Copyright © 2014 IDG Communications, Inc.

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