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Microsoft's Nadella: Productivity Is Our Soul

Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella promises Worldwide Partner Conference audience that productivity tools will top the company's priorities in the age of mobile and cloud.

another Microsoft product, the Delve feed would be passively generated in the background. As an alternative to search as a mode of finding information, Delve is a way of tapping the "ambient intelligence" of a workplace.

"Still, search starts with the assumption that you know what you're looking for," Nadella explained.

Reacting to continued complaints that the company is emphasizing mobile to the detriment of desktop users, Microsoft showed how Windows 8.1 adds features that cater to keyboard-and-mouse interaction. While the event did not feature a demo of Windows 9, one of the speakers who preceded Nadella, VP of Windows marketing Tony Profit, flashed up a screen shot of the Start Menu that will reappear in the next version of the desktop operating system, which he promised will be "like the old one but better," with integration for Live Tiles and Modern apps. In the next incarnation, Windows apps will be capable of being tiled or layered side-by-side with traditional Windows applications.

For big data and Internet of Things, Nadella showed an application created for ThysenKrupp AG, a global elevator maker, that can track the maintenance status of all the elevators in operation across a site or a region, warn when they need attention, and begin to predict how frequently they should be scheduled for maintenance in the future. The sample app, which visualized elevator operations across the Seattle Seahawks' Virginia Mason Athletic Center, displayed the data visually on a map of the complex, tapping machine learning algorithms running in the Azure cloud. A related demo showed how to build an application to make use of cloud data using the Project Siena rapid application development tool Microsoft has in beta.

"This is not about building things with a RAD tool -- it's about enabling the entire organization to build applications on the edge using those APIs," Nadella said. Partners should also start thinking about what they could build using those kind of resources, he added.

Because this was a partner event, Nadella and his team also spent a lot of time assuring conference attendees that this strategy will prove productive and profitable for them. Nadella told the partners that they energize him. "That's the inspiration, that's the confidence with which we move forward to this mobile-first, cloud-first world," he said.

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