Crowded cloud: Microsoft

20. July 2017

Date: 20-07-2017
Source: The Economist

Today the world’s largest software company reports earnings for the second quarter. Its share price is at an all-time high, elevated by expectations that the chief executive, Satya Nadella, will continue to transform the company and develop new business lines.

Mr Nadella, who is enthusiastic about artificial intelligence (AI), wants Microsoft to become an “AI-first” firm. He has pumped more time and money into Azure, its cloud-computing business, hopeful that it will account for much of the firm’s future growth.

But the company faces stiff competition from deep-pocketed rivals, such as Amazon and Google. Jefferies, an investment bank, reckons Azure will chalk up around $5bn in sales in 2017, or 21% of the market—an impressive sum but far less than Amazon Web Services, with 71%. Investors will be looking for clues as to how much new cloud business Microsoft has won. When expectations are great, even good results can disappoint.


What Satya Nadella did at Microsoft

17. March 2017

Date: 16-03-2017
Source: The Economist

The world’s biggest software firm has transformed its culture for the better. But getting cloud computing right is hard

A DECADE ago, visiting Microsoft’s headquarters near Seattle was like a trip into enemy territory. Executives would not so much talk with visitors as fire words at them (one of this newspaper’s correspondents has yet to recover from two harrowing days spent in the company of a Microsoft “brand evangelist”). If challenged on the corporate message, their body language would betray what they were thinking and what Bill Gates, the firm’s founder, used often to say: “That’s the stupidest fucking thing I’ve ever heard.” Read the rest of this entry »


Why Microsoft Bought LinkedIn

15. June 2016

Date: 14-06-2016
Source: The Wall Street Journal
Microsoft and LinkedIn are a natural fit, and the deal may fare better than Microsoft’s past acquisitions

NadellaMicrosoft Chief Executive Satya Nadella has said that LinkedIn will be allowed significant autonomy after the acquisition.

Microsoft Corp.’s planned acquisition of LinkedIn Corp. potentially is a very savvy move, though you would be hard-pressed to discern that.

There are lots of reasons for skepticism. The price tag, for one. At $26.2 billion, it is by far Microsoft’s largest acquisition ever. The size alone is a reason for caution, given the sorry history of such large deals.

Then, there is Microsoft’s own checkered history with acquisitions. It has recorded write-downs exceeding the $9.4 billion it paid for the handset unit of Nokia Corp. in 2014. Earlier deals for Skype Technologies and Yammer Inc., designed to bolster Microsoft’s digital and social credentials, did little of either.

But this deal can succeed where the others failed.

Here’s why. Read the rest of this entry »


Tech’s ‘Frightful 5’ Will Dominate Digital Life for Foreseeable Future

21. January 2016

Date: 21-01-2016
Source: The New York Times

There’s a little parlor game that people in Silicon Valley like to play. Let’s call it, Who’s Losing?

There are currently four undisputed rulers of the consumer technology industry: Amazon, Apple, Facebook and Google, now a unit of a parent company called Alphabet. And there’s one more, Microsoft, whose influence once looked on the wane, but which is now rebounding.

So which of these five is losing? A year ago, it was Google that looked to be in a tough spot as its ad business appeared more vulnerable to Facebook’s rise. Now, Google is looking up, and it’s Apple, hit by rising worries about a slowdown in iPhone sales, that may be headed for some pain. Over the next couple of weeks, as these companies issue earnings that show how they finished 2015, the state of play may shift once more.

But don’t expect it to shift much. Asking “who’s losing?” misses a larger truth about how thoroughly Amazon, Apple, Facebook, Google and Microsoft now lord over all that happens in tech. Read the rest of this entry »


Microsoft CEO: ‘Until we really change culturally, no renewal happens’

15. July 2014

Date: 15-07-2014
Source: Fortune

NadellaMicrosoft chief executive Satya Nadella

The technology giant needs to fight for mobile market share. It needs to extend Windows to all sorts of devices. But none of it will happen without culture change.

Microsoft must change.

Microsoft should focus on its core—and Xbox isn’t it.

Microsoft has to differentiate itself in the marketplace, and productivity is the way to do it.

Microsoft could really do a better job marketing itself.

Microsoft ought to find a way to make Windows as identifiable with wearable technology as it is with the personal computer.

Microsoft needs to be mobile.

Satya Nadella, the chief executive of the Redmond, Wash.-based company, took to the stage here at the Fortune Brainstorm Tech conference to reiterate the strategy that he outlined in a memo sent to his 127,104 employees last week and otherwise show that he had control of a company that has been criticized as clumsy and directionless. Read the rest of this entry »


Worries That Microsoft Is Growing Too Tricky to Manage

10. September 2013

Date: 09-09-2013
Source: The New York Times

Microsoft MissionSEATTLE — At a time when many people in business believe the number of products at Microsoft should be getting smaller, it is about to become a lot bigger.

Microsoft’s $7.2 billion acquisition of Nokia’s handset and services operations, when the deal closes early next year, will increase the company’s head count by 30 percent and add a big, new hardware unit to a dizzying variety of businesses — an unusual situation in an industry where focus is often prized more than breadth.

It’s a concern to everyone from academics to Microsoft alumni. A list of missed opportunities and disappointing investments at the company in the past decade in areas like smartphones, tablets and Internet search have led to the belief that a more focused, nimble collection of mini-Microsofts could respond more effectively to the never-ending flow of disruptive technologies nibbling at its foundations.

“It is very hard to be a broad-based tech conglomerate,” said David Yoffie, a professor at the Harvard Business School.

Thirteen years ago, Microsoft’s competitors and a federal judge demanded that Microsoft be split up because of its market power. But trying to do too much rather than wielding too much power is the issue now. Read the rest of this entry »


Next CEO’s Biggest Job: Fixing Microsoft’s Culture

26. August 2013

Date: 26-08-2013
Source: The Wall Street Journal

At Software Giant, Taking the Safe, Profitable Route Often Wins Out Over Innovation

Months before Apple Inc. unveiled its iPad in January 2010, the tech world was buzzing about mockups of a tablet computer from Microsoft Corp. Created by an inventor of the company’s Xbox videogame machine, the Courier folded like a book and let users sketch and jot ideas on a touchscreen.

That spring, Microsoft Chief Executive Steve Ballmer told employees at Courier’s Seattle laboratory that he was pulling the plug on the device.

Mr. Ballmer said he was redirecting resources to the next version of the company’s Windows operating system, which was more than two years away, according to Georg Petschnigg and other former employees of the lab.

Microsoft MisfiresWhoever succeeds Mr. Ballmer at Microsoft will face the challenge of rebooting its corporate culture, in which charting the safe but profitable course—at least for the short term—too often wins out over innovation, say current and former Microsoft employees and other industry executives.

Under Bill Gates and then Mr. Ballmer, who announced his retirement last week, Microsoft honed franchises like Office and Windows to become a financial powerhouse.

The ingredients for success also made Microsoft a graveyard for the kind of big ideas that have inspired companies like Apple, Google Inc. and Amazon.com Inc. to create new areas of computing.

“If that is the game you’re going to try to play, you’re going to lose,” Mr. Petschnigg said.

So ingrained is Microsoft’s culture of protecting entrenched interests that swinging for the fences is sometimes punished, and so people stopped trying, say current and former employees and outsiders. They say that an outsider CEO may be the best choice to welcome back technologists who think outside the box.

“It is most likely, if not essential,” says management psychologist Thomas Saporito. Read the rest of this entry »