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Nadella dumps Ballmer's 'devices and services,' coins his own strategy

Gregg Keizer | July 14, 2014
Out with the old phrases to describe Microsoft's mission, in with the new.

Instead, Nadella turned other phrases, both old and somewhat new.

Of the latter, "digital work and life" took pride of place with 13 uses in the email, such as "We will deliver digital work and life experiences..." and "Our cloud OS will also run all of Microsoft's digital work and life experiences."

Right behind was "mobile-first and cloud-first," wording Nadella first trotted out his opening day as CEO, and has reiterated constantly as a, if not the, primary message from Microsoft.

And as many observers and analysts noted, Nadella hammered "productivity" into the email, using it 19 times, a tally that thrashed "consumer," which he penned just once. "Productivity and platform" turned up three times. "We will reinvent productivity..." Nadella asserted twice, and used variations another two times.

In one sentence, Nadella combined the two to come up a new synopsis of his strategy. "At our core, Microsoft is the productivity and platform company for the mobile-first and cloud-first world. We will reinvent productivity to empower every person and every organization on the planet to do more and achieve more," he wrote.

Experts on Microsoft liked what they read.

"Overall, I saw some promise there for enterprise customers," said Rob Helm, an analyst with Directions on Microsoft, and like most of those at the Kirkland, Wash.-based research company, a former Microsoft employee. "He flagged productivity and platform, which was an extension of the enterprise roadmap."

"I like this strategy better than others I've seen from Microsoft over the last five years or so," said Patrick Moorhead, principal analyst at Moor Insights & Strategy. "Microsoft is recognizing what they're good at, and Nadella stretched the definition of 'productivity.' Microsoft is the productivity provider for billions, and focusing on that makes sense, more than trying to go head to head with Google, Apple and Amazon."

"Drilling into what Nadella actually means by ['productivity' and 'platforms'] shows that [Nadella] has a much more expansive vision of what both terms signify, but one that's rooted in the things Microsoft is good at," noted Dawson. "That's a subtler shift."


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