The Nadella era of Microsoft stands in a stark contrast to ex-CEO Steve Ballmer in many ways. Whether it is the knocking down of walls within Microsoft to allow collaboration on a single vision or cooperation with their competition.
Nadella addressed the latter part during the question and answer segment at the Salesforce Dreamforce conference and with it some interesting remarks by the CEO.
When asked about partnerships and working with the competition, Nadella was quick to explain his theory and reasons for the détente:
"How is our industry going to succeed? It is only going to succeed if we can add value to our customers. Our customers are going to make choices that make the most sense for them, and they're not going to be homogenous choices…and it's incumbent on us, especially for those of us who are platform vendors to partner broadly to solve real pain points our customers have."
This approach stands, in some ways, against many in other firms in the industry including Apple and Google. Those companies still believe they can create the best everything for everyone. Google, especially, has become very nativist in their services in what is a drastic departure from years past. I remember when YouTube was to be everywhere, including on Windows Mobile 6.5. Now, Google can't be bothered for Windows Phone despite their financial success.
Microsoft, however, is bucking the trend here by embracing everyone. A good argument could be made that Microsoft could – and should – make the best PC, the best phone, the best gaming console, and close off all cooperation. Perhaps Nadella's re-envisioning of Microsoft is just the acceptance that they are far from number one in many areas. Even the PC market has seen a decline as people acquire different computing devices like tablets or large-screened phones. Smartwatches are now a thing too as is in-car computing.
Microsoft's past practices have caused a hardening of public perception. Whereas consumers adore Apple, Microsoft faces a very different opinion, one they are actively trying to change with their Windows 10 advertising campaign.
At the very least, I think it is safe to say that Microsoft's image is changing for the better. The recognition that Surface is ahead of its time (now hitting its stride), HoloLens may be the next big thing, and the Xbox is about to be transformed into a Windows machine. The media, in general, is taking notice.
It will be a few years before we see if Nadella's Microsoft was the right way to go, but it is an interesting journey. Watch the 90-second clip above to get the totality of Nadella's remarks.