Re: I feel sorry for Nadela. Snake bit by Microsoft's greedy past.
I'm with Lorna on this one. For at least some segment of customers, Ballmer's Microsoft clearly left a bad taste, both in terms of licensing policies, and his mostly late and ineffectual attempts to cash in on consumers. But I think the anti-Microsoft stuff is getting a bit mythologized. If the company is as allegedly doomed as some people seem to think, its financials are inexplicably sound-- not only because of long-term deals, customer lock-in and accrued wealth, but also because a lot of core assets have performed excellently. And Microsoft didn't force 12 million people to download Office for iPad during its first week. We don't know how many of those have translated into Office 365 subscriptions, but growth so far has been strong, and Microsoft seems satisfied with recent conversion rates.
Yeah, Windows 8.1 doesn't have many passionate defenders, Microsoft's licensing is byzantine, and so on—but it's just as easy to point to Microsoft's unequivocal success as it is Microsoft's most infamous failures. And a lot of people forget that Microsoft is more than Windows and Office. SQL Server hauls in something like $5 million per year, for example, and though I'm sure not everyone is thrilled about Microsoft's cloud-centricism, the company hasn't left the old world in the dark; they emphasize hybrid models as much as anybody because they realize most people need a bridge to cloud services, or will only use them in specific ways.
This isn't any kind of Windows fanboy-ism, just to be clear. Cost being no object, I'd choose an Apple product over a Windows product for most things I do (but cost is of course an object). I've also written more than a few critical words about Windows 8 and the Surface line's mass market appeal. But I think Nadella has handled the cards he was dealt as well as could be expected. He's also been relatively candid about Microsoft's challenges, and he's presented a much clearer vision for leveraging Microsoft's existing user base to launch new products, both for Windows and for other platforms. Nadella didn't build yesterday's Microsoft, and there's plenty of reason to think he'll build a different Microsoft for tomorrow. I think it's telling that so much criticism focuses on what happened before Nadella took over, rather than the numerous announcements Microsoft has made in the last month.
Tom bring up a point with "thinking about users." Apple cracked the UI question first, and has only gradually figured out supporting software and infrastructure. Microsoft has the infrastructure but is still figuring out the user-facing side, at least with Windows. This is one of many reasons that Microsoft isn't out of the woods. But I like said, I think Nadella knows that, and I think Myerson (the new OS boss) does too. I don't think Nadella is Steve Jobs, but he doesn't have to be. Microsoft isn't in nearly as bad a shape as Apple was before Jobs came back.