Microsoft talks up services, mum on Windows strategy

Microsoft has acknowledged that users aren't just tied to desktop OSes, shifting its focus to Office 365 and DaaS rather than its Windows strategy.

Windows is no longer the only operating system in town, and everyone knows it -- including, at last, Microsoft itself.

The worlds of consumer and enterprise technology today are heterogeneous, and even individual users are likely to use multiple OSes throughout their day. It's not rare for someone to work on a Windows PC during the day, listen to music in the car on an Android phone and watch Netflix on an iPad while at home in bed.

The key enabler of productivity today is the app, not the operating system. Some recent moves by Microsoft, under the leadership of new CEO Satya Nadella, show that the company finally gets it and is adjusting its Windows strategy accordingly.

CEO ignores desktops

Sometimes, what people don't say is more important than what they do say. Nadella wrote a companywide memo in early July about Microsoft's transition from devices and services to platforms and productivity. Conspicuous by its absence was the word desktop. It only appeared once, and that was in reference to Office shifting from on-premises software to a cloud-based service. Ouch! Instead, Nadella said the new Microsoft would focus on building and delivering applications that can run on any device.

Windows de-emphasized at WPC

Microsoft's annual Worldwide Partner Conference is a gathering of thousands of people who make a living off the company's products. So, it was telling when the most ubiquitous product of them all -- Windows --took a back seat. Microsoft instead showcased Office 365, touting its availability on a wide variety of devices and operating systems, including the iPad.

Azure RemoteApp goes beyond DaaS

Desktop as a service (DaaS) is still emerging as an alternative to traditional virtual desktop infrastructure. But, Microsoft is sidestepping the trend and taking an even less desktop-centric approach. Its new Azure RemoteApp cloud service delivers Microsoft apps to mobile devices without Windows, and the company even admits that's what customers want.

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What do you think of Microsoft's direction? Is the desktop less important than service offerings?
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For quite some time, Microsoft has come across to me as being a lost business looking for direction. I understand that services make more money and innovation is critical. Like in a political election, you can't afford to tick off your base of supporters just because you see an opportunity that may or may not make you more powerful down the road.
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I'd argue that Microsoft's "do anything to protect Windows" strategy is what ticked off supporters, and that its new focus on applications and services is much more in line with what users are looking for today.
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Agreed Colin - if Microsoft can finally admit to itself that not everyone lives in an all-Windows-all-the-time world, it might actually be able to gain more loyal customers. 
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For me, I think Microsoft is moving further away from the desktop and more into the cloud and applications world. Just from their latest reports, their cloud service sales are booming and I think Satya Nadella is really pushing the company into the cloud market now.
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