Microsoft's Nadella: More Than Talk - InformationWeek

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7/26/2014
08:36 AM
Michael Endler
Michael Endler
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Microsoft's Nadella: More Than Talk

Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella proves he can be a man of action with the biggest layoff in company history and other concrete steps to reshape Microsoft. Now what?

Microsoft lean and focused will infuse it with a startup's soul, as Nadella intends. But after talking about creating a "challenger mindset" at Microsoft, Nadella is now actively trying, at a very large scale, to make that happen.

On the enterprise and infrastructure sides, Microsoft clearly is performing well. Not everyone is persuaded by Nadella's cloud vision, but by focusing on hybrid products that bridge its on-premises server business with Azure, Microsoft is balancing its massive customer base and its future goals.

In these areas, Nadella's pet phrases make the most sense. His references to "ambient intelligence" and "ubiquitous sensing" tap clearly into the Internet of Things and its legion of environment-sensing, big-data-feeding connected devices -- the kinds of things for which Microsoft currently is preparing its cloud and data products. Likewise, his other talking points -- "productivity and platforms" and "mobile-first, cloud-first" products -- align to Microsoft's base catalogue much more easily than Ballmer's "devices and services" plot did. It makes sense for Microsoft to deliver services through the cloud, and to harness both Office's ubiquity and Microsoft's role as a major server player as foundations for delivery. It did not make sense to add a wholly unproven product category -- devices -- as a would-be strategic cornerstone.

Nadella's Nokia reductions include the elimination of the Nokia X smartphones, which layered Microsoft services on an Android base.
Nadella's Nokia reductions include the elimination of the Nokia X smartphones, which layered Microsoft services on an Android base.

But things are murkier on the operating system and device side. Nadella is committed to putting Microsoft products on all platforms, iOS and Android included. He also remains committed to Windows, and to first-party devices such as the Surface Pro -- though he bent over backward reassuring investors last week that Microsoft isn't "in hardware for hardware's sake."

That's a lot to balance, especially for a company that's playing from far behind in mobile, and losing some of its consumer share in traditional PCs. Nadella's repeatedly described his intentions for a faster, less-bureaucratic, and more-collaborative management style -- and he'll need it. Microsoft might manage to juggle it all, but it's hard to not see the potential for strategic contradictions to arise.

Nadella has hyped Cortana and other contextually-aware technologies as game changers but Microsoft still has to prove its vision.
Nadella has hyped Cortana and other contextually-aware technologies as game changers but Microsoft still has to prove its vision.

Nadella has begun to describe the actions he'll take to integrate what's left of Nokia's device business, and to make Windows a viable mobile platform. Some of his intentions are still vague, such as what specific benefits we'll see from the converged core that will soon power all versions of the OS, mobile and desktop alike. Will it just offer convenience to makers of simple apps, or will it transform the way we use and think of Windows across devices?

Nadella's declaration that devices will serve to "light up" Microsoft's digital experiences is appealing. It focuses on differentiating Microsoft's strengths, rather than keeping up with whatever Apple is up to. But if Nadella is going to offer first-rate Microsoft services on iOS and Android, what more can a Windows device add to "light up" the experience?

Microsoft has lightly fleshed out the idea. Even if Cortana becomes a cross-platform product, it will likely remain most closely tied to Windows Phone hardware, giving the digital assistant the ability to do more with contextual information, for instance. Nadella has also cited the Surface Pro 3's superlative digital inking experience as an example. Neither of these is necessarily a game changer but they prove a point: Even if Microsoft makes the best possible product it can for iOS or Android, devices that run those OSs are still limited in certain ways, which gives Microsoft room to explore new avenues.

Still, Nadella has a long way to go. On the enterprise side, Microsoft enjoys momentum today -- but Nadella has hinged tomorrow on ideas such as Delve, an Office 365 app that uses machine learning to discover what, how, and with whom you work, and to deliver information it thinks you'll need. It's tantalizing to think of a product that knows what you want before you do, but the concept is unproven and will test Nadella's promises that Microsoft will excel at data management and privacy. Nadella's device and Windows plans, meanwhile, are only just gaining focus, and will put pressure on the company's 2015 slate. That's when we should get our first full look at the company's post-Nokia device efforts and the next version of Windows.

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Michael Endler joined InformationWeek as an associate editor in 2012. He previously worked in talent representation in the entertainment industry, as a freelance copywriter and photojournalist, and as a teacher. Michael earned a BA in English from Stanford University in 2005 ... View Full Bio
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pcharles09
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pcharles09,
User Rank: Ninja
9/29/2014 | 11:28:56 PM
Re: Let's be a little more serious about the word 'action.'
"The newer generation the millenials are being deprived of entry level white collar jobs, call center jobs, accounting jobs, but especially dangerously, excluded from IT career."

How exactly are they being 'excluded'?
heartpuppy
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heartpuppy,
User Rank: Apprentice
9/26/2014 | 9:42:23 PM
Re: Let's be a little more serious about the word 'action.'
The latest shellshock and heartbleed are only the tip of iceberg when it comes to American insecurity.  Lack of diversity/duoculture in computer systems and the aging of American nerd workforce are both driving American IT off a cliff.  The newer generation the millenials are being deprived of entry level white collar jobs, call center jobs, accounting jobs, but especially dangerously, excluded from IT career.  This will have catastrophic consequences if left to continue.
pcharles09
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pcharles09,
User Rank: Ninja
9/25/2014 | 10:37:05 PM
Re: Let's be a little more serious about the word 'action.'
@heartpuppy,

I agree with the insecurity point. People overlook it because they feel insecure about technology in general. I don't think there will ever be a point when you can feel 100% safe when it comes to your information.
heartpuppy
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heartpuppy,
User Rank: Apprentice
9/23/2014 | 10:44:09 PM
Re: Let's be a little more serious about the word 'action.'
We could say it's capitalism at its best and idly watch the process to continue.  But the patient will shortly die from this cancer of the brain, and the death will be fast, incomprehensible and catastrophic.   Exponential growth always beats linear growth, everytime and everywhere.   Americans won't even know what is hitting them.   Look at JPM Chase, Ebay, Target, Homedepot, Albertson, Goodwill & Cisco.   The underlying cause of information insecurity and future insecurity are hardly touched by any media.
pcharles09
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pcharles09,
User Rank: Ninja
9/22/2014 | 9:58:09 PM
Re: Let's be a little more serious about the word 'action.'
"They care about money..."


@heartpuppy,

Unfortunately, that's the case for everyone, Americans included. The Indian businessman just found a soft spot in the American businessman's wallet: savings. An they capitalized greatly. If anything, you could say that's capitalism at its best.
heartpuppy
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heartpuppy,
User Rank: Apprentice
9/1/2014 | 10:08:03 AM
Re: Let's be a little more serious about the word 'action.'
Wipro Limited (formerly Western India Products Limited) is a giant Indian contractor.   

check out www.foreignlaborcert.doleta.gov/pdf/H-1B_Selected_Statistics_FY2014_Q1.pdf

Currently it alone has 10,000 H1b visa labor in the US.  Over the past 15 years, all the Indian contractor giants imported ~1000,000 Indians into the US to occupy and "upgrade" American's IT brain.

BTW, Chase was hacked last week.  What does Chase, Target, Ebay, Michaels, SuperValu, Healthcare.gov, California healthcare exchange have in common?  They all laid off their American workers and outsourced their IT department to Indians and India; and they all were breached or failed miserably.   Admit it, Indians don't care about American information security and American jobs.  They care about money.

An Indian guru came to an American saying: You are dumb.  Let me replace your brain with a new IQ=200 brain...  For rupees!    Does American take him up on his generous offer?   Yeah, it's hugely embarrassing, but we did.
pcharles09
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pcharles09,
User Rank: Ninja
8/31/2014 | 10:32:38 PM
Re: Let's be a little more serious about the word 'action.'
@heartpuppy,

Wow I've heard of Wipro before & didn't know they're offshore. I just checked their website to see what they specialize in. They claim to have over 143k employees. That seems a little exaggerated but probably not since they're publicly traded. Interesting.
heartpuppy
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heartpuppy,
User Rank: Apprentice
8/27/2014 | 11:19:46 PM
Re: Let's be a little more serious about the word 'action.'
Check out this org:  connect-goal.com/

 

They claim that the growth of legal outsourcing industry in India is exponential.
 Very likely it's true: google "india legal outsourcing". You will find lots of good in-depth coverage, some from NYT.
 Yet no one is raising alarms, likely because the lawyers have the same sense of security and complacency as the software engineers 10 years ago.   If they saw what happened to the American software engineers and connected the dots, they'd probably think twice about this "exponential" outsourcing of this key American industry central to American democracy.

Microsoft also outsource its IP legal department. google "wipro microsoft outsource IP".  It has become a zombie American brand with 80 billion dollar cash to be robbed blind by its suave PPT masters and turned into a giant cuckoo hatchery.  Same fate as befallen Cisco, check out Cisco's recent announcement (bradreese blog: every division with falling or stagnant sales and apparently preparing to sack the survivor nonIndian engineering leader of one of the few growth divisions).   Entire America will suffer the same fate if unchecked.

 

 
pcharles09
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pcharles09,
User Rank: Ninja
8/25/2014 | 6:58:45 PM
Re: Let's be a little more serious about the word 'action.'
@heartpuppy,

Wow I didn't know about the legal outsourcing. That's a little odd, isn't it?
heartpuppy
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heartpuppy,
User Rank: Apprentice
8/19/2014 | 5:49:18 PM
Re: Let's be a little more serious about the word 'action.'
I don't think most Americans understand how dangerously critical the IT situation is.   It's not just a job issue, IT only has 2 million jobs and it's already 50% Indian occupied through the H1b abuse.   The critical problem comes from the dried up American talent pipeline and the national security issue down the road.   We are seeing IT drastically transforming every traditional industry( including policing, military, health, accounting and law).   Yet we are writing off our own young's future and allowing our IT to be taken over by a foreign force with secret agenda, and who has no regard for American values of democracy and equality.   

I'm also concerned about the now widespread practice of low end legal process outsourcing into India.   I antipate a day when Indian law school grads will be taking American bar exams and begin practicing as American lawyers (using the IT game plan to squeeze out next generation of American lawyers).   When the Indian lawyers reach a critical mass, they will be able to defend and legitimize this giant take-over of American democracy, which began with exporting millions of entry-level white collar jobs, now into the stage of a quiet IT take-over without resistance, to end with the take-over of American law, legislature and government.


Their game plan is brilliantly and discretely executed judging from the general lack of American awareness.  I got to admire their audacity.   Back to Microsoft, the rounds of layoffs are still ongoing.   Watch Cisco (recently announcing another round of layoff of 6000 people) for a taste of Microsoft's future.  Cisco is in advanced stages of layoff-worldwide-hire-Indians-at-the-same-time and its cash hoard of 50 billion (mostly offshore) dollars will be raided by its Indian cadres, who are clamoring for the Indian CTO to be promoted to the CEO spot.
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