Microsoft’s CEO has set out a sound vision for the company that squarely places it in the role of solutions and platform provider. This is actually a very sound strategy for Microsoft as they’ve had years of experience with this. However, to do this begs the question of the role of Windows at Microsoft. For this platform centric approach Microsoft intends to take this could prove problematic for the manner in which they deal with Windows.
Windows as equal player
The only way that Nadella’s strategy of Mobile First, Cloud First can work is if Windows becomes an equal player at the end user or device level. Microsoft would of course have a vested interest in their own OS and the devices Windows might spawn. However, if people are coming to work under devices strategy that states “Bring Your own Device” (BYOD), then the person has to have equal access to the services of the business.
Microsoft thus might want their products to be the best they can be. Yet, to play fair and to get the businesses to buy this business solution from Microsoft they need to be fair. Apple therefore needs to be viewed as just a solution at the end user level that will be tied together with the likes of Office 365. The Apple consumer should be able to get quality Office solutions as would the Windows consumer. This is much of what Nadella was saying in his Webinar around Apple.
Apple has been Hugely Successful at the Devices Level
It is well accepted that Apple has been hugely successful at the end user level with their devices such as the iPad and the iPhone. Android has been successful also. However, Android is not likely to eclipse Apple at the mobile level nor Apple’s sound vision of what devices should entail and deliver.
Apple has been very successful in, at the same time, delivering upon its vision. iPhones and iPads can be seen everywhere. Microsoft has to be open to the Android market also in it’s positioning of Mobile First, Cloud First but it is more complicated as the Android market is so fragmented.
Macs show Renewed Vigour
Apple’s Macs are showing renewed vigour while the PC market is ungluing. Mobile devices are inflicting damage on the traditional PC model. Many people find that their mobile devices do more than enough and are satisfied say with just an iPad and and iPhone. This speaks well to the visionary leadership and legacy Steve Jobs left behind.
Office for the iPad was more than Appearances
Office for the iPad was significant at more than one level. It delivered to Office workers the ability to “Bring Your own Device (BYOD)” to work. Office workers are now able to work with their iPad’s anywhere. Thus, the delivery of the software enabled the worker to do their job in a flexible and yet structured manner.
However, it went further than just delivering capability. The delivery of this functionality supported Nadella’s vision of Mobile First, Cloud First. The action said that Microsoft was putting the user first and was more than prepared to take the steps to demonstrate their commitment to the user by bringing forward an application they were holding back till their own platform ran it. Those days seem to be over.
Or Are They: Office for the Mac 2014
Irrespective of what I’m about to say, if and the words include the big “if” they introduce Office 2014 with the kind of capabilities expected (it will work with the Mac architecture etc) then they have to be. I think Nadella will end those days of a dumbed down Office for the Mac. He appears to have the political will and the backing of the board to do what is right for Microsoft. Everything I have seen and read about Nadella, his background and what he’s accomplished for Microsoft would say he is fully committed to “Mobile First, Cloud First”. He is the one to have coined the phrase and it couldn’t have been said better.
With that in hand and assuming the above to be true, Office for the Mac 2014 will adhere to these principles. My understanding from everything that I’ve heard is Outlook will not be the equivalent of Outlook for the PC but it will be a long run from the current Outlook which is, to put it mildly, very problematic. I use Office 2011 for the Mac and Outlook regularly. Although I like the product I’m more than aware of its shortcomings and it certainly is a break in the principles of the now defunct Mac Business Unit (MBU).
The role of Windows in the Microsoft environment has to change to support Nadella’s vision. This is somewhat of a given. One might ask though if it has why would Outlook for the Mac 2014 not be equal to the PC version. It’s a good question. However, in that it should be, based on what I’ve been told, significantly improved, then the move is in the right direction.
Windows Focus will be Superceded
With all the facts lined up, I fully expect Windows to remain important to Microsoft. However, their focus, I expect, will shift to their new products that support the strategy of Mobile First, Cloud First.
I think that Office 365 will be central to Microsoft’s future. Rather than expending fruitless energy on Windows, I would think Microsoft would redirect that towards Office 365.
With that goes then the requirement, if they intend to be a platform for the masses, to treat all end user systems equally.
Expect that if Microsoft has a product that fits with Mobile First, Cloud First that product will receive a lot of backing.
A New Day, A New Dawn
Nadella has introduced to Computerdom both a new day and a new dawn. This is both good news and refreshing news. Microsoft has always had a lot to offer the Mac user but it seemed that they somehow disappeared from the ballgame for quite a long time. Let’s hope they’re back as they do have a lot to offer the Mac user.
The Mac user though was naturally beginning to forget Microsoft and any hope they would play to a vibrant community and market. Microsoft, for their part, began to realize that they were loosing the Mac market base. This is now a huge base and represents a new opportunity for Microsoft to generate business.
The more that Microsoft plays as a platform independent service and solutions provider the more likely it will be that the Mac user, both personal and business, will come to purchase a Microsoft solution.
The business user could especially benefit. Apple provides great solutions. However, they have not played well to the business market as it really was not a prime focus for Steve Jobs. Microsoft though has years of experience providing corporate solutions and they have gotten very slick in the form of Office 365.
As I have previously noted, Office 365 has been geared to a multi-tiered systems environment. The platform has been designed for:
- the home user
- personal user
- small and medium size business
- large business
or to put it another way just about anyone.
I’d like to refer to Microsoft as the new Microsoft not to be confused with the mishap of the “new coke” many years ago. This is a Microsoft, I’m sure, that users will like using. The benefits for all are great especially for the Mac small to medium sized business customer.
I find many aspects of Mobile First, Cloud First quite exciting. However, nothing can be more exciting than a significant company such as Microsoft providing solutions to the Mac user that can assist with the delivery of the advanced networking capabilities the current Mac and IOS products have been specifically designed to deliver on. Numerous things are beginning to intersect which not only are generating an exciting current environment but more specifically that of an exciting future environment.