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
8/19/2014 | 5:22:41 PM
Re: Let's be a little more serious about the word 'action.'
@heartpuppy,

I think most people see it & understand what's going on. They just feel powerless. Even worse, they choose NOT to speak out for fear of retribution.
heartpuppy
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heartpuppy,
User Rank: Apprentice
8/1/2014 | 9:07:06 AM
Re: Let's be a little more serious about the word 'action.'
Sorry my tone is not always the nicest.  The way this critical industry is going, is going to be a massive national insecurity issue.  The way the American young nerds are being shoved under the bus while experienced American nerds are being squeezed out the industry, and everyone seems not to see it.   That does upset me.

If Microsoft is turned into a 100% cuckoo hatchery, American IT, even global IT will be undefendable from this brood of hypocritical, racist, nepotistic, self-serving cuckoos.
pcharles09
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pcharles09,
User Rank: Ninja
7/31/2014 | 11:41:22 PM
Re: Let's be a little more serious about the word 'action.'
@heartpuppy,

I was referring to your tone more than the content of your message. It came off to me that you were upset with MSFT, which is why I asked if there was a reason why. I didn't say anything you mentioned was inaccurate.
heartpuppy
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heartpuppy,
User Rank: Apprentice
7/31/2014 | 9:41:45 PM
Re: Let's be a little more serious about the word 'action.'
am I aggressive because i said anything false?

I thought the facts are pretty clear.  The way this layoff is conducted is very strange.  

fact 1: Microsoft has 80 billion dollar cash.

fact 2: Microsoft continues to employ 90000 contractors including Tata consulting services, Infosys, Wipro and HCl, all giant Indian contractors hijacking the H1b visa program for many years in a massive way.  Only 1 month ago Microsoft renewed an IT contract with Infosys.   Apparently Microsoft laid-off techies are not given a chance to retrain to take care of their own IT.

fact 3: giant Indian contractors imported 1 million H1b IT experts into the US in the last 15 years, where the entire marketplace only has spots for 2 million IT jobs.  What happened to the 1 million American IT workers replaced by the H1b visa labors?  They trained their replacement and faded into unemployment or became real estate agent.  those trying to stay in software industry,  are turned down by Indian hiring managers as "overqualified", "poor culture fit", "too old".

fact 4: Computer Science majors in many American schools are occupied by Indian students.   American grads from respectable American universities could not compete with new Indian grads in the IT workplace.  why?  Indian grads could get into a contractor job easily through one of those giant Indian contract firms, given on-the-job training, their career made by getting on one of the ladders under the protective wings of Indian hiring managers and middle managers, maybe even Mr Nadella himself.   American grads get none of these perks, they are just laughed out interviews by the Indian managers, called inexperienced, poor culture fit, stupid and lazy.

fact 5: the way Satya did his grand job cuts: It's protracted, painful and encourages infighting among nonIndian permanent workforce; at the same time it left the 90,000 contractor workers nearly intact.   Mark my words, in a few months, there will be a giant backdoor opened for these Indian temp workers to become full time employees (without pesky interviews that kept so many American grads out of Microsoft) or a giant push to outsource to India.   It's such an old trick used by Cisco, Ebay, VMware & Qualcomm and other tech companies.  It's unmistakably effective, as these companies' engineering departments are now almost completely Indian.

 

fact 6: rumor says entire teams of Indian testing engineers under Indian managers received the coveted promotion to become software engineers (under the curren testing-development job role integration reorg).   Because these are already often 90% Indian teams, they compete only with each other in performance and have nothing to fear but trust that the Great One has their back.  So while everyone else fear for their jobs, the Indians at Microsoft are enjoying gyms, relaxation ,defacto promotions and office politics' spoils.   They are eagerly awaiting the next stage of takeover, where they could become 100% of Microsoft, to inherit the empire and its cash hoard.

American IT industry is besieged by Indian invaders on every front.   Currently at occupation rate of 50%, Indians are 30-40% Microsoft's permanent engineering workforce; more Indians than Americans are employed in IBM; Cisco,Qualcomm's engineering are nearly completely occupied by Indians.  Go take a look at VMWare and Cisco's headquarters and many IT departments for financial/insurance industries, and then tell me if I'm too aggressive in pointing out the quiet IT invasion or simply telling the facts as it is.

In another 10 years at this rate, the occupation rate will go from 50% to 100%.   Now when Indian contractor CGI screwed up Obamacare website,  there are still Google's engineers to the rescue.  In another 10 years, the way Indians keep importing more H1b experts, there will be NO nonIndian software engineer to be found.   Send an email, visit some website, some Indian big brother will be sniffing on the network, you will never know.   80+% executives in Indian companies admitted to using network monitoring, bugging, and employing spies on their competitors.   I do not expect that they will change their stripes when the imported Indians became the 100% Lords of America's information system.
pcharles09
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pcharles09,
User Rank: Ninja
7/29/2014 | 10:48:23 PM
Re: Let's be a little more serious about the word 'action.'
@heartpuppy,

Did you work from MSFT in the past? Why the aggression?
Jeff Jerome
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Jeff Jerome,
User Rank: Ninja
7/28/2014 | 11:12:35 PM
Re: Microsoft is now a server company
@ charles - I thnk that you are correct the Azure product is doing well and so is Lync.  And I think Lync can drive some device sales too.  Which could help to drive Microsoft device sales.
Charlie Babcock
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Charlie Babcock,
User Rank: Author
7/28/2014 | 5:44:52 PM
Microsoft is now a server company
Although Microsoft still aspires to be a device company, I think it's inevitable that its future lies as a server company. it's last successful business device was the Windows PC. Which means that it's now a server company, both Windows Server in the enterprise and the Azure Cloud, delivering services to other people's smart phones and mobile devices. 
heartpuppy
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heartpuppy,
User Rank: Apprentice
7/28/2014 | 3:32:36 PM
Re: Let's be a little more serious about the word 'action.'
With his protracted layoff, Nadella is trying to squeeze out the "best" Microsoft workers.  By "best", I mean the American nerds who do their job well and get paid well and are ill-equiped to handle the vast office-politicking credit-stealing job-stealing PPT-touting nepotistic net-sniffing IT "expert" invasion army, 1 million strong, brought in from India into American IT workforces(total about 2 million jobs).

Admit it, American nerds focusing on doing their software jobs should not be expected to put up with this kind of infighting and uncertainty(intentionally unleashed by Nadella), and will likely look for alternative employment opportunities.  Nadella's Darwin process will only leave the Indians (protected by Nadella and gang) to be declared the heir to the Microsoft's 80 Billion dollar cash hoard.   Indians could use this hoard to launch another million "experts" from slums to take over American IT 100%...  Isn't it beautiful?

Yeah beware your email and all office communication is being spied on by your Indian invading force.  I'm sure a low caste American like you would appreciate Indian Big Brother's taking care of all your IT needs for the next thousand years.

 
Lorna Garey
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Lorna Garey,
User Rank: Author
7/28/2014 | 3:02:29 PM
Re: Let's be a little more serious about the word 'action.'
So to distill your message, you're positing that Nadella's grand plan is to lay off large numbers of Microsoft's US citizen tech workers, replace a significant number of those people with (presumably) less expensive Indian tech workers, then bail out of the company?
heartpuppy
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heartpuppy,
User Rank: Apprentice
7/28/2014 | 2:39:31 PM
Re: Let's be a little more serious about the word 'action.'
Nadella does not fit the classic profile of "outsider hachet man".  but fit the profile of "Indian insider hachet man with secret agenda".   His college buddy (from an obscure second rate Indian university that produced NO big CEOs before Nadella ) became Nokia CEO, and carried out extensive layoffs in Nokia during his career at Nokia.   The 2 friends seem to follow the same playbook, a playbook used extensively at other Indianized American high tech outfits like Cisco and VMWare.   Where you see rounds of small/big layoffs and attrition aimed at nonIndian workforce, coupled with extensive outsourcing to India and Indian companies.  In addition these companies also preferred hiring and promotion of Indian workers in America, resulting in a huge Indian technical population (sometimes 8/10) in their US corporate headquarters.   

Cisco's indianization strategy:

 http://www.networkworld.com/article/2264760/lan-wan/cisco-quietly-downsizing-through-outsourcing.html

Qualcomm's Indianization strategy:

http://www.sandiegoreader.com/news/2013/jan/09/citylights1-engineers-dislike-h1b-bosses-gloat/

http://www.sandiegoreader.com/news/2011/mar/09/citylights1-american-engineers-short-supply/

IBM now more Indian workers than the US:

http://nypost.com/2013/10/05/ibm-now-employs-more-workers-in-india-than-us/

 

 
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