Ballmer had stepped away from Microsoft in large part because he had been unwilling or unable to speed up change at the company, according to accounts published late in 2013.
"I was very impressed with Nadella on stage," said Patrick Moorhead, principal analyst at Moor Insights & Strategy. "He was very professional, poised, and seemed like a man on a mission."
Others, like Milanesi, commented on Nadella's technical knowledge, contending that he warmed up the more technical he got in his remarks.
That comment would make co-founder and former chairman Bill Gates happy. When rumors swirled that the front runner for Ballmer's job was Ford Motor CEO Alan Mulally, Gates hinted that he thought Microsoft needed a technically-astute leader.
A large number of sell-side Wall Street analysts had pushed in the months before Nadella's appointment for someone less technical, more business savvy, someone like Mulally, who had rescued Ford from the brink and was believed capable of remaking Microsoft.
As it turns out, Nadella has won some converts.
"I think he sent a strong signal that he is the right person to take Microsoft in a new direction, despite his long tenure [at the company]," said Koplowitz. "I was hoping to see a sea change after Ballmer, and Nadella's stake in the ground on being device agnostic and delivering Microsoft's flagship product to the most endpoints possible with the best possible experience, was a great start."
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