Microsoft today is a trillion dollar enterprise. But if we move back a few years into the past, it’s growth wouldn’t exactly predict that it would reach to these heights as such. In every vertical of industry that it was providing its products, it was losing its market share heavily. What turned around for the company?
The Steve Ballmer Era
Microsoft before 2014 was a very different Microsoft compared to what we see today. It didn’t have a clear vision as to which industries to focus upon. It was releasing its products haphazardly, and there was no specific direction to where the brand as a whole was moving towards.
Windows 8, launched in 2012, turned out to be a huge failure, and the adoption to it was reminiscent of when Windows Vista launched after XP. People didn’t move to 8 or 8.1 with as much enthusiasm compared to how Windows 7 or previously, XP were released.
XBox 360 at the time turned out to be less powerful than its biggest rival, the Sony Playstation 3, and had even weaker exclusive titles than what Sony had for their platform. Thus, in that space too, the company was losing its ground.
Ballmer tried to catch grounds in the mobile industry, just a bit too late. iOS and Android had already laid their foundations, and Microsoft couldn’t build its ecosystem around the same after the downfall of Windows Phone 7 once the iPhone launched. Microsoft once again tried to catch up, by buying out Nokia’s Mobile phone division but found no success with successive iterations of Windows 8 Mobile and Windows 10.
Ballmer also tried his hands on the PC Hardware stage with the Surface line-up. Although, the brand “Surface” caught on to be a pretty widely known one, the pricing strategy was so off the mark that the sales were pretty much lacklustre. To bring prices down, Microsoft tried to bring Windows on (then pretty weak) ARM platform, through the Surface RT, which turned out to be a downright failure too.
All of this combined, was leading Microsoft to a pretty weak stage when it came to competing against the other tech giants it was pitted against.
The arrival of Satya Nadella
The on boarding of Satya as the new CEO brought up a series of events rippled on by this seismic shift. The whole branding was restructured under him.
Microsoft decided to be cloud first. Nadella has visioned that the future would be cloud dependent, and acted upon it swiftly by a rapid expansion of its Azure platform. Which now is a big competition against Amazon Web Services and Google Cloud Services.
Nadella also decided to ditch the Windows phone division as a whole, and decided to move on to the development of better Microsoft Services for other platforms, namely iOS, Android and MacOS. Nadella had decided to make Microsoft’s approach a “Consumer first” approach – that no matter what platform a consumer is using, he or she shall receive the best services by Microsoft possible.
This led to the revamp and direct rebuilding of major applications for iOS and Android Platforms, including Microsoft Office , with even a full fledge one for iPads; Microsoft Outlook had an overhauled app. Microsoft even took over apps like Swiftkey, and Sunrise Calendar, to make better verisions of the same with their AI and cloud integrations.
In addition to that, Microsoft Office became subscription based with the launch of Office 365, with features like Onedrive integration, sync of documents and more all packed in a single package updated yearly.
Windows 8 was overhauled to Windows 10, with the “Back to the basics” focus. But Nadella has already shown that while Windows was still the core product for the company, but their services were top notch on any platform in the world.
The New Microsoft
Microsoft surprised us even more this year, by launching new Microsoft Edge which underneath itself, ran over Chromium, which is Google’s web engine. This showed how focused Nadella is to be open towards all its competitors and even ready to use their products if they meant better experience for the end user.
We can see how way the addition of Linux to Windows, and Hololens development software sourced openly to be developed by developers around the world, has shown the open nature of the new Microsoft, which is a distinct difference from the Ballmer and even the Gates eras.
Add to that, the launch of Surface Duo, an Android device by Microsoft showed the exact same thing – Services is the future and Microsoft is focused on building the foundations to the same.
With that, we can see how SAAS (Software as a Service) is now a leading industry in itself, with even a trillion dollar enterprise, moving from hardware and software monopolies it had earlier, has now committed to being an open company with services in all the platforms, including its competitors and, in my view, destined for even higher success in the future.