I still remember my first encounter with Microsoft, just like it was yesterday. It was when my dad, bought us (me and my sister), an IBM Computer, not the flat monitor ones, but the one with a Cathode Ray Tube Monitor.
A Cathode Ray Monitor (CRT), Image Source: Wittayayut / Getty Images
I can clearly recall being amazed by going the applications and programs the computer bore. He emphasized that we should learn the Office Products such as Microsoft Word and Microsoft Excel, which in my part of the world, deemed to be the most important applications for which one ought to have skills to utilize. He simply said, “They would prepare us for the future”.
And as the future would have it, Microsoft business model has since gone to empower people and businesses to carter for their clientele through solutions found in products and services the company offers. Whether via Microsoft Office Suite or the Windows software which powers the PC’s and Tablets or the Cloud Computing and Artificial Intelligence, Microsoft tries to do it all
However, as the company evolved, so has its competitors. Along came the likes of Apple, Amazon, Google and many other more, all trying to measure up against the old tech giant. These opponents have gone toe to toe on hardware products, software, cloud business which in turn has promoted a healthy competition and offered clients more alternatives.
But it was in the midst of all this, understood-able so, the company lost it’s identity. In a verge to maintain and increase its market share, the company main soul was diverted, and saw it falling behind in the market. The once tech giant, seem barely afloat in the pool of modern day tech evolution and unicorns.
Microsoft missed out on the opportunity for creating own mobile phones. And in attempt to save face, the $ 7.2 billion NOKIA acquisition in 2013 did not help either and ended up flopping. It seemed like the old glory had fizzled out and the company was doomed for failure. The culture became toxic and people started leaving the company, as it no longer served the vision, passionate employees had signed up for earlier on.
That all changed in 2014, when Ballmer stepped down, and Satya Nadella was appointed to assume the role as the new CEO. The Hyderabad native, went from being a software engineer to Executive VP for the Cloud and Enterprise Group, before his appointment. The unnatural choice quickly became the answer to the drought Microsoft had immense into. Satya confronted the elephant, that was the culture that had presided over a number of years, and with growth mindset and new mission, he managed to turn the tech giant to a new light. He encourages new ideas and creativity, which motivated people to work even harder.
From the left, Bill Gates, Satya Nadella and Steve Ballmer. Source: Microsoft/ Youtube
It all made sense. Things started to fall into place. With a new captain and a positive cultural environment Microsoft had all the resources for a new dawn. The business focused its efforts on the Cloud Division handling its cloud, Microsoft Azure. In a few years, despite the slow start, the cloud has since went on to gain significant market share, falling second to Amazon Web Services (AWS), which is the market leader in the industry.
The company has gone on to revamp its operations and offer amazing solutions to businesses and enterprises. It uses its technology across various industries and various geographical markets, with emphasis to offer solutions that carter to specific needs.
Here are some of my personal favourite aspects from Microsoft;
- Microsoft Azure
The cloud platform has cemented its status as one of the most go to for businesses and enterprises. The cloud computing service was created by Microsoft for building, testing, deploying and managing applications and services through their large chunks of data centres.
With it’s fees being much cheaper than competitors, Azure is also safer with stable security. With data centres globally, it has more local presence with focus to meet residency data needs. it gives users the open source, for all languages, and allows deployment however and wherever one wants
The clients, in exchange for a fee charged, are allowed to access a pool of computing resource which includes email & web servers and even databases which are managed by Microsoft. It allows for use of computing resources in need without the extra cost of having to own data centre, having to pay staff or purchase hardware for it.
The cloud business which got it’s head start when Satya Nadella was appointed Executive Vice President of Microsoft’s Cloud and Enterprise group has seen tonnes of improvement. He has led the transformation to the cloud infrastructure and services business, which has outperformed the market and managed to snuggle share from the likes of Amazon Web Services (AWS) and Google Clouding Platform.
Crowned the “best PC selling game of all time”.
With its origin ailing all the way from Europe, in Sweden, Minecraft has managed to silently dominate the market, where Fortnite and Roblox are major contenders.The game secures over 100 million players a month, and has established itself as a game, people love to play every now and then.
I personally credit the simplicity of the game towards its success. The game has allowed players the freedom to choose where to place the mined blocks, so as they can build something in the virtual environment. Some, have named it a Virtual Lego.
But that is not even the most impressive part. When Microsoft acquired Minecraft back in 2014 from Mojang Studios, it was a bit confusing. I mean, what value would the game add, to a well established tech giant? Needless to say, I was so wrong.
Since the acquisition, Microsoft has managed to use Minecraft to entice kids to not only play it, but also learn different subjects with and even learn how to program it. With the official release of Minecraft Education Edition in 2016, it has enhanced the game to be a learning platform, for which an educator can use to teach students. The game allows students to be transported to a virtual world, use the blocks to create an environment, solve problems and activities that helps them learn different aspects about subjects. Students have been able to gain and learn knowledge about programming, algorithms, History and even Geometry.
Students are able to collaborate with each other (other players) in the game to solve assignments given. It has a library of different lessons across all subjects and ages. The game, due to its virtual and visuals nature, entice an exciting participation from students during lessons compared to the traditional way of learning. As someone who is passionate about Education, Microsoft won my heart with this one.
An example of Microsoft Minecraft Education Edition Learning experience;
Video Source: Minecraft Education Edition/ Youtube
3. Hololens 2 and Neural Text-to-Speech (TTS) The Virtual Reality Technology
Back in July, I watched the Microsoft Inspire 2019 Keynote address which took place in Vegas. Satya gave an overview presentation on the various products that it offers. When he and the team unpacked the Hololens 2 to unveil the new Neural TTS technology to say I was more impressed, is an understatement.
The Hololens 2 headset was used to unveil the new program, which converted the presenter into a hologram, that could deliver the speech in a different language. The Mixed Reality Technology was used to produce the Hologram and present it live, The Azure Speech to Text Capability in English Transcription was used to attain speech, Azure Translate to change the speech to another language then Neural TTS is applied so as the hologram can sound just like the speaker, except speaking in other language.
Though the tech is still in infant stages, needless to say, once concrete, it will revolutionaries how businesses will be conducted and how live presentations can be carried out. The technology will eliminate the language barrier, and allow the presenter to create a personal connection with each audience regardless of the language spoken by each.
Video Source: Microsoft/Youtube
The subscription based service allows users to get their work done via applications such as Word, Excel, Outlook, OneDrive, Teams, Yammer, Powerpoint, OneNote and many other more.
With different monthly and yearly packages, the client has complete freedom to choose the one that fits their budget and their needs.
Office365 has enabled users to carry out their work remotely. I now only need my account, which is my username and password to access my data. I do not necessarily need to carry my laptop everywhere with me. I can access my work from any laptop, anytime as long as I have got the internet. I prefer the web based login as compared to the installed application versions. I can directly edit my work from the email without having to downloading it and can easily attach recent files shared. The web based Office also offers quick access between products such as Yammer, Teams without opening the applications.
5. Satya Nadella
Image Source: James Martin/CNET
The man who succeeded Steve Ballmer, is not your ordinary CEO. Satya, has a more compassionate approach, with which can be an attribute of the resurrection of Microsoft.
Having previously headed the Cloud Infrastructure and Service Business, Satya was the unlike choice to the position. However, since his ascending, the Microsoft share has since quadrupled to witness the growth of over 300%.
Under his strategic leadership, the cloud business, Azure has risen to the level of competing with the Market leader, Amazon Web Services (AWS). The cloud business has also grown to become the most profitable for Microsoft among the segments of the business.
A CEO, who is an engineer by heart, made it a mission to change the culture of Microsoft in order to return it to its glory, one may say, even precede it. He preached on the growth mindset to the employees, in order to empower every person in the organization.
Having personally watched multiple interviews he has done, what I personally relate to, is his calm approach. His enthusiasm when he sees a technology he likes and how excited he gets when that tech can execute its purpose.
But all this, is just a snippet of what Microsoft has and is currently doing. The company has made a revolution in health, in education and in various businesses across the world. From assisting to create devices that makes possible for providing remote health services, Microsoft has shown no bounds.
And who can forget the Windows 10 launch, which officially took place in Kenya. By then, a questionable choice, the launch was however eminent, as the country shows promising growth of middle class companies and startups. Also with mobile techs and fin techs offering services such as MPESA which has majority users, Microsoft aims to entice more mobile users to subscribe to their services.
The resurrection can also be attributed by the diversification of businesses the company has managed to do. The revenue and profit driven by Office products, Windows and the Cloud Business (Azure). Unlike its’ competitors such as Apple, which has remained a one trick pony, heavily relying on the iPhones, whose sales are slowing, Microsoft diversification has proven profitable. Apple has yet to make significant innovation in the enterprise market, nor innovate their current business model. The iPhone might have proven to be a mighty cash flow well, but Microsoft diversification has put it in a significant position to ride the wave of future technology trends
The mindset shift to secure meaningful collaborations with partners such as Apple, Salesforce, Dropbox has assisted Microsoft to make their products and services more accessible to more users. Acquisitions such as Github, which promotes open software, creativity and allows developers share codes in building programs and applications on the platform have encouraged developers to access, use and improvise codes done by others. This is the statement to the open source technology, Microsoft is currently embracing.
Despite hitting bumps along the way and a period of stagnated growth, Microsoft has surely re-emerge and re-establish itself. Bad Acquisitions such as Skype, Nokia and LinkedIn has enabled the company to make better decisions and correct its past mistakes. The launch of Teams, being one of the decision made, which will see Microsoft abandoning Skype and Teams acting as the official platform for communications.
In the near future, it would be nice to see Microsoft establish the clear vision for the Job and Professional Platform that is LinkedIn for its users. Since it made the acquisition, nothing significant has come out of it. I solely, believe Microsoft should aim to monetize on this public network, which boasts over 500 million users, from which over 200million users are active on a monthly basis. The potential is there, how they will turn it around to compliment their Ecosystem remain an enticing puzzle to solve.
One thing is for sure, in my opinion, Microsoft is the company of the future. Yes, it has its weaknesses, as any other tech company, but with massive Investments in Artificial Intelligence and Cloud Business in across industries and markets such as Education, Health, Real Estate, Finance, Agriculture, it is safe to say, it is doing something right.
Either I am crazily obsessed with Microsoft or there is some truth beneath what I see. The future is exciting, The future is here, more tech revolutions are yet to come, and good thing, we are having a front seat to the disruption of it all.
To buy Satya Nadella’s Book “Hit Refresh: The Quest to Rediscover Microsoft’s Soul and Imagine a Better Future for Everyone” click here
To watch “Microsoft Inspire 2019 Corenote” click here
To watch “Microsoft Ignite 2019 Vision Keynote” click here