At last week’s BUILD developer conference in San Francisco, Microsoft announced major changes to their cloud computing platform, Windows Azure. These changes included added support for foreign languages and third-party tools, and the introduction of the Azure Preview Portal, which allows developers to build and manage instances while they are running. These improvements will go a long way to helping Microsoft compete with other cloud computing giants like Google and Amazon.
When Satya Nadella was appointed CEO of Microsoft in February 2014, the company was stagnant in terms of product innovation. The man Nadella replaced, Steve Ballmer, does deserve credit for raking in enormous profits for the company. But under Ballmer’s tenure Microsoft lagged behind the technology developments of its competitors, especially in the realm of cloud computing.
Nadella is steering the company into a new direction. In an interview released just hours after he was named CEO, Nadella stated that his primary objective was to make Microsoft a “mobile first, cloud first” company. Then is not surprising when you look at Nadella’s experience and see he was previously the Head of the Cloud and Enterprise department at Microsoft.
In his few weeks as acting CEO, Nadella has taken many big steps towards his “cloud first” objective. He resurrected Microsoft Office for iPad, a program that was killed two years ago by Ballmer. Microsoft has also released OneNote on the Mac. His willingness to work with the competition for mutual benefit reflects Nadella’s pragmatic side, while the products being offered here over Apple systems highlight his devotion to the proliferation of cloud-based apps.
Before we get too carried away, it is important to remember that Nadella hasn’t even been CEO for 100 days yet. There is still plenty of time for him to make mistakes. But if the past few weeks are a true indicator of the decisions Nadella will make in the future, Microsoft is well on its way to being a top innovator and competitor in the cloud computing market.