D'Arcy from Winnipeg
Solution Architecture, Business & Entrepreneurship, Microsoft, and Adoption

Microsoft Ignite 2015–Microsoft’s Message

Sunday, May 10, 2015 6:44 PM

I was in Chicago last week for Microsoft Ignite, the second major Microsoft conference in as many weeks (Build was the week before). I had a fantastic time and wanted to share some thoughts on the conference over a few blog posts:

Microsoft Ignite 2015 – What’s Its Purpose?

Microsoft’s Message

Under Steve Ballmer the message of Microsoft was simple: Microsoft products must dominate every market segment that it or its competitors competed in. Certain things, like Windows and Office, have been standout successes for the company. Azure is still catching up to established competitors like AWS but the gap on features is closing rapidly. Certain areas, like Windows Phone and Bing, have been overshadowed by stronger competitors. Still, Microsoft always had one goal in mind – MUST WIN!

Now under Satya Nadella, the message out of Microsoft is different. Whether its releasing Office applications on competing platforms AHEAD of its own mobile devices, or releasing a free Visual Studio product named Code specifically for OSX, or open sourcing the .NET Core so it can run on Linux and OSX, the Microsoft of today does not look like the Microsoft of 2000 – 2010.

Satya has already been very forward in the companies focus, making it very clear and not mincing words:

There is Windows, there is Office 365, and there is Azure. That’s it.

-Satya Nadella

At Ignite this year Satya was on the stage again and continued to refine and clarify what it is that Microsoft now wants to be known as. This is from one of his keynote slides:

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“Microsoft is the PRODUCTIVITY and PLATFORM company that will thrive in the mobile-first, cloud-first world.”

This basically echoes what he was quoted as saying earlier – Windows and Azure (platforms) and Office 365 (productivity) are the three main focuses of the company. But then Satya took it further to drill down into how they will achieve this.

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The three tactics he identified were creating more personal computing, building the intelligent cloud, and reinventing productivity and business processes.

Create More Personal Computing

This one speaks to Windows 10 (across all devices including phone), One Drive (personal and for business), Surface, and Hololens. Windows 10 is looking to be an amazing evolution of Windows, blending the best of Windows 8 and the best of Windows 7 together into the right balance of familiarity and new features. The Windows Phone demos looked very good, and included a prototype scenario where a phone could be hooked up to a monitor via a cable and a keyboard/mouse via Bluetooth and operate like its a regular computer. Universal Applications allow for similar UI experiences across different devices – its a very intriguing story.

One Drive of course is part of that story – the idea that your documents are stored in the cloud ready for you to access across all your devices, personal and business.

Hololens is the new hardware darling of the Microsoft world right now, promising a new user experience unlike anything else before it. Those that got hands on with it at Build seemed to have positive reviews, but no devices were available at Ignite.

Build the Intelligent Cloud

What does this even mean? Well in Microsoft speak it means “the back end infrastructure that drives all of your enterprise mobility”. As an example, they released a new threat detection tool called Advanced Threat Analytics which can identify suspicious behaviour in your domain such as questionable logins or file access.

It’s one thing to use Azure for infrastructure, platform development, or to run/access software as a service. But the cloud needs to be much more than that – it needs to be a holistic solution, and that means features and applications built into the cloud to allow end users to better manage their infrastructure.

Reinvent Productivity & Business Processes

In a perfect Microsoft world, all your users would be using Office 365. They would have Universal Office Apps so they could use any device they wanted to. They would communicate using Skype for Business (which, by the way, is the official name of Lync going forward). They would leverage SharePoint, but not local SharePoint – Office 365 cloud-based SharePoint. They would develop applications for Office 365 using the available APIs. They would store documents in One Drive for Business. And what the hell – they’d use Surface tablets.

Microsoft already owns the productivity suite business, but they want to own it across all devices and platforms. Statements like “If you’re a web developer than you’re an Office 365 developer!” rang out in the Office area of the expo hall as booth experts showcased the new APIs available to developers; so its not just end users being courted here.

Get on the Cloud Bus!

It’s refreshing to see that the message coming from Microsoft, and Satya, is very consistent across events and over time. Microsoft isn’t trying to do too many things at once or jump into markets they have no right being in. Windows, Azure, and Office 365 – that’s it. It’s nice to know where they stand and where they’re going.




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