The All-new Post-PC MICROSOFT
Where do they want to go today?
W ell OK. Maybe not exactly all-new. Microsoft has been pursuing a “mobile-rst, cloud-rst” strategy since Satya Nadella took over as CEO back in 2014. But to the casual observer, Microsoft is still Windows, O ce and a smattering of Xbox.
Except, the PC market has been in continuous decline—research rm Gartner reports PC shipments are down in Q2 2017, and has been sliding for the past 11 quarters. A global reshu ing exercise has also seen Microsoft cutting consumer teams around the region, Singapore included, even as they’re gearing for new Xbox and Surface device launches.
What exactly have they done to further this mobile-rst, cloudrst agenda? I was invited to visit Microsoft in Redmond to see for myself. Far removed from their devices days (you know, Windows Phone), the rst thing I noticed was that almost everyone uses an iPhone. Even among the journalists present, three out of four were taking notes with a tablet and Bluetooth keyboard instead of a notebook. Microsoft has acknowledged that we’re living in a world where any device that works for you, is the device you work with. This seems to be what Microsoft’s mobile-rst ethos is all about; not a specic device or device ecosystem, but about mobility.
In a nutshell though, Microsoft is going back to its roots, and it revolves around software. Think about it. What is a PC? A disparate mix of hardware all running on a common platform – Windows. In a mobile-rst world, your disparate mix of hardware are the devices of all makes and models. But Microsoft has learned that cornering the mobile market isn’t about trying to put Windows onto every device. Here’s where the cloud-rst strategy comes in.
The new Microsoft doesn’t care what you use. Are you a Windows user? Great. Not a Windows user? Doesn’t matter. In 2014, Microsoft opened up the O ce suite for free on iOS and Android. They even partnered with Dropbox, a thirdparty cloud provider to access O ce documents, so you technically didn’t need to pay Microsoft anything at all to use and work on your mobile O ce docs. In the following years, Microsoft has continued to open up more of their software on iOS and Android. However, this is just scratching the surface of things. There’s more to Microsoft’s strategy than making apps available on competitor platforms.
Every major technology company is investing for the big push into AI, Microsoft included, even though they’re probably lesser known today among other consumer AI implementations. When you think of Siri, you think of speaking into your phone to schedule meetings and update to do lists—or if you’re The Rock, save the world. When you think of Alexa, you think of controlling your smart home; dimming the lights, playing music or switching TV channels.