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Microsoft adopts 'challenger' mentality to win larger world of connected devices

Mark Hachman | July 15, 2014
Microsoft controls more than 90 percent of the personal-computer market. Which means that, in its view, it's an underdog.

Microsoft controls more than 90 percent of the personal-computer market. Which means that, in its view, it's an underdog.

Microsoft opened its Windows Partner Conference in Washington D.C. by showcasing the abilities of its cloud services, with the spotlight on the preview release of a new machine learning capability for Microsoft Azure. But when chief operating officer Kevin Turner took the stage at the end, he spoke aggressively about seizing the opportunity in connected devices.

"The reality is that the world has shifted, and the world's evolved. We now measure ourself in the total device space, and in the total device space we have a 14 percent share of devices," Turner said.

"And when you have 14 percent you have to adopt a challenger mindset," Turner said.

On Monday, Microsoft made few announcements, mainly showing off how its existing products worked together, forging a cohesive whole. One important tidbit of news, however, was the Hewlett-Packard Stream, a $199 notebook which Turner held up to illustrate the fact that Microsoft was committed to attacking the low end of the market in an effort to gobble up that remaining 86 percent of devices. The Stream will be accompanied by two other HP tablets, priced at $99, which will launch this holiday season. 

Turner said that when Microsoft decided to eliminate Windows licensing fees on devices 8 inches and smaller, Chinese partners announced 31 new low-end tablets in that week alone. "This holiday we're just getting started with the device and where it's headed is extremely powerful," he said. "We do intend to compete at the low end."

Turner said that Microsoft had a four-step plan of attack for its new fiscal year: double-down on the cloud, win in mobile, adopt the challenger attitude, and obsess over customers. The end goal is to be the productivity and platforms company that chief executive Satya Nadella envisioned

Cloud is the main focus

Microsoft's WPC is an opportunity for Microsoft to present its roadmaps and plans for an assembled roster of major customers. In years past, Microsoft has made products like Office 365 and Azure key areas of focus, as platforms that partners can build off and provide consulting services for, growing their own business as well as that of Microsoft.

At past WPCs, Microsoft has shown off how products like its Power BI tools provide intelligence to products like Excel, tying together public and private data stores to provide insightful looks at information. In one example on Monday, Microsoft executives demonstrated how a travel budget could be dynamically adjusted by swapping out business-class airfare with coach for travelers in various product groups, and how warning signs in sales for a particular industry segment could be put front and center on an operations dashboard.


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