Nadella expounds Microsoft's vision on partnerships and competition in computing

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.

Nadella's 'iPhone Pro' demonstrates just how pervasive Microsoft is on iOS

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.

Daniel Rubino

Daniel Rubino is the Editor-in-chief of Windows Central, head reviewer, podcast co-host, and analyst. He has been here covering Microsoft since 2007 when this site was called WMExperts (and later Windows Phone Central). His interests include Windows, Microsoft Surface, laptops, next-gen computing, and for some reason, watches. Before all this tech stuff, he worked on a Ph.D. in linguistics and ran the projectors at movie theaters, which has done absolutely nothing for his career.

  • It's the anti-Google.  Perhaps it will work.
  • It really is the anti-Google. And Google is like Microsoft circa 1995.
  • Very true.  MS is saying "use our services, and if you like them, perhaps try our hardware and while you're at it come check out our ecosystem."  It may be a strategy borne of desperation, but still might end up being a very good strategy in its own right.
  • I believe Google is under Antitrust regulation so may be prohibited in Software expansion? Also, Google seem to be under threat of fines and anti-competitive business behaviour in Europe too. Perhaps, maybe, they have no choice but to restrict their services? Whereas, Microsoft have freedom to be ubiquitous at the moment. Antitrust never gets mentioned in these comments and I just wondered what effect it has at present?
  • Antitrust regulation doesn't have anything to do with Google refusing to support WP as they have apps on iOS.
  • those anti-trust and anti-competitive suits agains google are exactly the best way to show how google's practices are bad. they really really are the microsoft of the past(ms is no strange of anti-trust suits, if you remember). but leave them. maybe one day they will open their eyes too. this industry has matured. you cannot tell in the year 2015 to a tech consumer what to do. it is vice-versa. ofc apple is an axception because they have a culture too, but while they may last more than google, on day they will have to change their politics too.
  • And Microsoft hasn't been taken up on antitrust violations many times? I love my windows phone, windows 10 machine, and desire a surface, but I still use Gmail for my main emails and love certain projects like google fiber and driver automation. I think these companies tend to have an ebb and flow of openness and proprietary features.
  • I don't think so. They will be in antitrust if they have Youtube on Android and prohibit other video services, then you have antitrust issue. But forcing some company to leave one particular platfrom from their services? What kind of antitrust stunt is that?
  • No, MS doing it right. They offer their services on every plattform, and their Platform is open for any services of other. You cannot blame MS that google brings no offical Gmail-App for Windows, while Apps are everywhere, and can read data from each Mailservice ... 
  • *stark contrast
  • That proves it. Windows Mobile is dead.
  • must have watched a different video, or had a pre-formed conclusion that you want to believe.
  • Daniel the problem is that under this ceo ms has become a terrible company
    No more a friend of their customers or their users Like in the past
    Ms has changed
    I've migrated a customer from google apps to o365, ok o365 has some problems Like s.f.b. Limitations and other small bugs
    We are receiving a Level of support ridicolous from ms, that's extremely disappointing
    Lack of features and you have to allways ask for features on uservoice that probably will never come
    Some even that also the free thunderbird have As company they seems only focused on apple and android and trying to kicking out us as Windows users continuosly with unfinished products or aoplications that crash very often, Skype on wp is terrible and a lot of users are disappointed Ms under nadella has become a company unfear, dishonest (support on lumia here is terrible, for a broken glass they sent back after one month another phone to a customer and asking for 250 euros) Yes, let me say nadella is fooling all of us! Period
  • Heh heh good one...dishonest..? they couldnt be more honest about their approach to everything now... But agree about Lumia customer care support...their outsourced care support is ripping people off left and right here in India (particularly in chennai). i dont know if things have improved after their renovation under the Microsoft brand though...
  • Nadella doesn't love Windows phone.
  • Nadella only use windows phone! And he is like hololens more than smartphone is general.
  • Not exactly. Some people have said that he uses a iPhone to use for work. Posted via the Windows Central App for Android
  • actually its about perspective. in the past, i never enjoyed a support for windows directly from ms, ever. now, in nadela and windows 10 era, i could just go in my start menu, open contact support app and voile, 5 mins later im live chatting with a real person to solve my problem. should i tell you how much love can bring such a good experience to the heart of a customer who always was going to the internet and extensive searching for the solution? i know, im tired of waiting too. and while they are a little slower for software and there is definetely something that needs to be fixed. things likes a better support and such comes from company organization, something which nadela tried and probably will continue to try to improve. and this my friend takes even longer to fix than the pace of developing their apps.
  • Nadella gave up too early. Microsoft shouldn't be leaded by a short-sighted manager.
  • How exactly did he give up? Microsoft is now providing the best software for you regardless of which platform you use. Having everyone use Microsoft apps and services is what will make them successful. You're one of those people who care only about the success Windows Phone it sounds like.
  • The best software? Is OneDrive better than Google Drive or Dropbox? Is Skype better than Whatsapp or Facebook Messenger? Is Cortana better than Google Now or Siri? Nadalla is only supervising the Office cash-cow that Gates and Ballmer developed. Tech changes so fast, a short-sighted manager is not enough for Microsoft.
  • Agree as allways with Spectrum90
    20 years ago we were used to say IBM: Idiots Become Managers
    Now is the ms turn
  • You forgot about Azure/the cloud. Nadella is looking after that as well.
  • Whatever u say they never gonna beat android bcoz they earn a lot thru patents and that too like 2-3 billions annually.
  • True
  • Amazon dominates the cloud. Microsoft is competing with Google for the leftovers. Who was in charge of Microsof's cloud efforts when Amazon obliterated them in this key business? Yes, Satya Nadella. And the funny thing is that Amazon uses the same raking system to evalute its employees, supposedly Microsoft's biggest problem that was causing competition instead of collaboration, the symbol of the old management team that Nadella removed as a first meassure. Microsoft reports Office 365 as cloud revenue, but the truth is that most of that revenue is just the Office cash cow that Gates and Ballmer created. Customers pay a monthly fee to use the same old Office suite at a lower cost and with additional services.
  • Azure surpassed AWS.
  • For me OneDrive is definetly better than Google Drive and Dropbox. Skype gives me video calling. Does Whatsapp even have it? Not used Facebook messenger much so can't really comment. Cortana is definetly better than Google Now and Siri in many aspects. Although there are some aspects in which Google Now/Siri performs better. But come on, it came much later than Google Now/Siri. You can't say Nadella is short-sighted manager as he has a long term vision. It's not going to take them a day to get all their apps to other platforms. Even Windows 10 is under continuous development and that can be clearly seen.This shows that Microsoft has long term plans to make a great OS. I do agree that Microsoft services are not great on Windows 10 Mobile at the moment. But, they haven't even released it yet.
  • I think Nadella has a long term vision & Windows Mobile is not in it... Thats why they have been doing half-assed effort in Mobile, both hardware & software... We all saw so much potential in it... but its not there anymore... Look at all the issues Win10 is having lately... Looks like he has the best & the brightest working in iOS/Android team while the new recruits are sent to work on WIndows/Mobile platform/apps... It won't be a surprise if MS gets out of Windows Mobile hardware by 2017 (or may be 2016)... Want Win10 Mobile... get OEM hardware...
  • Office is the new Windows, earnings wise. Hence it being everywhere. Windows 10 everywhere will be a gateway to Microsoft Software and Services, that's where the money is. Hence Windows as a Service. If the above generates lots of income then Plan B, the devices, don't need Apple/Android sales success to be successful. The end game of ubiquitous software with Surface/Xbox/Phone/Band/Hololens is still a win.
  • Perhaps it may be true MS is falling behind in some areas, but that is only a reflection of a broken slow culture that grew under Ballmer. Nadella knows he can fix everything, but starting with culture and making sure everyone is doing their best and passionate work should pay off in getting their teams to work harder than they have been used to before. I.e. It will help them not only catch up and bring back features they have lost, but have the desire to actually LEAD not merely FOLLOW.
  • Meant to say can't fix everything on his own
  • Hey check this out: Outlook Calendar is at the bottom of the list! Microsoft cares about Google Calendar more than the Outlook Calendar!
  • You'd make for a terrible detective.
  • Yes.
  • Onedrive: Yes Skype: Not yet Cortana: You can be sure of that, even the first version was better.
  • This is a nice acceptance from Microsoft's CEO, that to compete with Samsung and Apple, they are behind on consumer interest. It is more possible for Microsoft to obtain revenues from Galaxy S6 Edge+ or iPhone 6S users using Microsoft's services (Office 365, Skype, Outlook) than all the revenues Microsoft got from Windows Phone between Sept 2014 and Sept 2015.  I'm really hoping those Lumia 950 and 950XL devices are adopted by US carriers and international carriers with the same enthusiasm carriers sell iPhone or a Samsung Galaxy device.  Otherwise, Microsoft won't be able to get all the marketing money they need to attract customers into Windows Mobile devices.  This is probably one of the last chances for Windows Mobile, the other one could be the Surface Phone but that will be released until 2016.
  • IMO, the new Lumias could be the last go-round.  If they prove to be an embarrasing failure, there won't *be* a Surface phone.
  • Don't hold your breath. Microsoft would better pushing their phones through the Microsoft store and 3rd party stores.
  • Google blows chunks in the enterprise space, it's like a rag-bag of shareware. Office 365 and Azure is killing them.
  • I don't remember the date exactly but about 1 month ago, Microsoft just passed Google apps / Google for work revenues with Office 365. This probably means Google was right about the cloud, but they had a vision of office services with poor execution (running all on the cloud, while small businesses have slow Internet connections, data gaps, etc). While Microsoft made the cloud approach with much better execution. Your software is downloaded and run on any device (smartphone, tablet, PC, All in One) all with your purchased license for 1 year. This is IMO how good software as a service should be. 
  • Not revenue, usable, office365 is already five times bigger than google apps in revenue.
  • I think this will pay off in the long run
  • Must say Nadella has a great vision... Deserves to be called the best CEO...
  • LOL
  • If you can't beat them, join them.
  • If you cant beat them, get them to buy your your software is number 1 and then you don't need to sell the most devices to win.
  • Going well for long run.
  • For Windows Phones customers, mock the numbers if you wish, the choice seems to be clearer. Well if against all odds W10M comes together and MS starts making quality apps for its own platform and there will be real flagships then who knows :)
  • Just because the phones have polycarbonate back cover and sd card/removable battery, doesn't mean they are not real flagships. The specs are there on par with the other flagships and we have yet to see them in official images
  • They are not REAL flagships if the look like the render. Why should I pay the same as Samsung Edge and have a phone that looks like THAT!
  • I tend to agree with you. If the renders hold true I'm afraid I won't stick around hopping that maybe my carrier will get them exclusive deals. For years its always buying what I really didn't want just to use the OS. Because of exclusive. This time around I'm not doing. That.
  • It all depends on what the consumer wants and needs. Choice is good for consumers. Compare the mobile industry to the auto industry. Samsung Galaxy's are to Hyundai, as Lumias are to Honda. Hyundai's usually have many new, cutting-edge features and may look better (opinion, obviously), but they don't last as long and require more maintenance. Hondas, on the other hand, are associated with being boring-looking and are usually late to the game on features, but they're known for their build quality, reliability, and durability (longivity). Not everyone wants the "cool new thing" that's going to have issues within 2 years. Personally, I prefer build quality, reliability, and durability, as I believe substance > style.
  • It s not about polycarbonate and sd card removable . It s about the design .from this, the phone wont be attractive... Posted via the Windows Central App for Android
  • I don't understand this is good or bad for windows mobile Dan?
  • It's neither. It doesn't address Windows 10 Mobile at all. However, Microsoft's opening up may open up Google/Apple in letting their services in on WP. Who knows what deals, if any, have been made.
  • That's is a risky move but brilliant, hope work if it's the case
  • Google and Apple would be foolish to provide their services on WP considering that Microsoft itself doesn't care about this platform having less than 3% market share.
  • Agree with maktaba
  • Exactly what I was thinking. Great observation Daniel!
  • Google doesn't make apps for Windows Phone for the same reason it doesn't make apps for Blackberry or Symbian phones. They are irrelevant. If Windows Phone became big enough that money was being left on the table, Google would support it. Posted via the Windows Central App for Android
  • Gdoc n gmail were unique when they were released but now they r lagging behind.. Google is adamant and not customer centric.. stark contrast to how they were 7-8 years back..
  • How can anyone not like Nadella's response? Love this new Microsoft.
  • People who care only about Windows Phone don't like his response, because they believe that Microsoft should be focusing only on them.
  • Not true! I'm offended by ms that treat me like a Second class customer
    Apps come first for other platforms and of even better quality
    Skype on wp continuosly crash!
    And apps lLikelumia panorama to be dismised before realeasing the one!
  • Skype on Windows Phone continuously phone do you have?a lumia 610?
  • I like what this guy is doing...very strong and clear on his vision and the way he's carrying it can see how much things have changed for their customers in general...
    Androidcentral is starting to take notice and is filling up with approval and praise for MS...maybe once they start trusting MS and their services and see how good they all seem to come together, they may consider Windows Mobile eventually... Looks like MS is going for the halo effect...get all their products to be so good that customers start trusting other products that they haven't tried so far...   There are a lot of plays they are going for all at the same time...It's quite interesting to watch them all progress...
  • Yes ans their own platforms like os/2.....
  • Microsoft sees Google as a bigger threat than Apple. It's kind-a repeat of SUN Microsystem with its almost pervasive Java threatening Microsoft's .NET and Windows Server establishment. Microsoft's decision to 'save' Apple from near bankruptcy was part of that strategy. Now, by getting cozy with Apple (and Amazon) again, it might be successful in restricting Google's growth.
  • Embrace and extinguish.
  • that strategy also implies extending onto your own proprietary realm before extinguishing the others'. What they're doing is extinguishing their own while extending the others' at the same time
  • Exactly
  • No what he ment is; Embrace IOS, Android and Extinguish WP. Fixed it.
  • Ms have come a long way since their old monopolising practices of the past. They are late to this particular game but I believe they will be very strong within two years.
  • ..."and keep your enemies closer". I see what he did there.
  • I can just say that he is to the point of what he is talking about. Not wayward at all.
  • People don't buy PCs any more, they build them themselves, all my friends built their own PC and then built PCs for their family, I've personally built all my previous GFs PCs. There are a lot of us out there and it's the future of the PC, the OEM built PCs nearly killed them off, they suck and I cannot wait for them to die. 
  • People dont buy/use desktop PC's anymore. Full stop. I'd love to see the usage telemetry of those PC's your friends built for family and girlfriends. They are probably off, or idle 99.9% of their life. Desktops are in decline and rightly so, most home users don't need that power. (Or if they do need the power after they bought a $700 phone and $600 fruit tablet they wonder where all their money went and say I'm too poor for a desktop) People have a phone, tablet, laptop, streaming device. The use case for a home non gaming desktop is so far to the edge it's ridiculous.
  • Everyone still has a PC, you cannot beat their productivity, phones and tablets are shit.
  • Do you have any links to actual figures to compare how many PC's worldwide were personally built and how many were OEM's built. Just going by what your friends did doesn't really mean anything, tbh.
  • @Grant Butler, I find it rather telling you said "I've personally built all my previous GFs PCs" not "GF" maybe they didn't like your handy work after all :P.
  • First line, I believe it should say "stark contrast"
  • Thanks. I'm the worst.
  • He talks the talk, yet.... We're still in beta!
  • Agree
  • I said it before and I'll say it again: This is the way to go. Get your services everywhere and have people use and like them, get them to get invested in your ecosystem. Then, show them what they can do in addition by using your OS and hardware to run those services.
    It doesn't matter if W10M is still in Beta, now is not yet the time it needs to shine. Microsoft will not gain new consumers because of their phones now. They will get new consumers to their phones over their services mid and long term. This is why services on Android or iOS need to perform perfectly out of the gate.
    Give it some time, this might just work.
  • Nadella's response is 100% reality. I'm pretty sure the greater portion of say iphone or android users use PCs running windows as well as Office. Many probably own Xboxes as well, or maybe playstation users with PCs running windows and so on. User devices will generally not be homogenous - fact of life today for the average consumer. Your best bet is to meet consumers where they are.
  • I think this openness is great and wish others did it as well. I also like the concept that they have good services on all platforms but if you want the best experience you should choose a MS platform. Hopefully they can deliver on this message this year. I would also like to see a huge marketing push on the benefit of one windows...
  • Not sure Hololens is the next big thing but I do believe that AR is the next big thing! Hololens needs to excel at it and Microsoft should see beyond it already because I have the feeling it's just going to be an intermediary—yet important—step along the way.
  • Microsoft is only saying this, because it is weak and lost Mobile and Touch market.
    Microsoft needs to deliver compelling services and products, which it is doing in Enterprise and Cloud, but simply doesn't deliver in Consumer. And the developer community have given up on Microsoft because of all their platform churn and reboots.
  • This is a beautiful mindset that I wish more companies had. With the cut-throat mentality of the modern corporate society, it's absolutely refreshing to hear a CEO truly putting the consumer first. It's statements, and actions, like this that might change the public (and perhaps some developers' ???) perception of Microsoft.
  • I wish a goodlick microsoft
  • Microsoft reallt wants to concentrate on win 10 mobile. But not at the cost of Azure, dynamic products, office products and other enterprise products they build. Those things are going to remain how much u excel in making good technology.
  • Look at the broader picture, they need to get the foundation right - Windows 10 OS = Foundation & Azure = Backbone. Granted there have been alot of silly decisions made which hasn't helped Windows Phone at all. They have finally realised that flooding the market with silly handsets like the 530 will get them no where and that will just give them more, more and more work to do as they would need to be tested for issues with everyone update going forward. But Microsoft being Microsoft, over reacted... as usual. By being platform agnostice in the mobile arena they will always cannibalise phone sales there is no two ways about that. So Instead of axing almost the entire WP division they could have used the resources to accelerate progress but now they don't have that luxury. Furthermore since they are no longer "competing" they should stop diluting the UI to appease ios & android users. Personally I feel they need to bring back the hub model, integration model, combine it with the app model, and throw in all the enterprise features that any corp would want.  That would be the winning formula imo. I know it's easier said then done, but it's not impossible either. Never the less they appear to be slowly getting there as the photos app has no hamburger menu and relies on pivots for navigation with the app bar + tap+hold providing menu access which is idealy for one handed use. Not to mention the one handed mode makes using the photo app a breeze.
  • Awesome, that is the right way to go about it however I just wish they would stop making random silly decisions... lol.
  • Nadella wants to be an APPLE but he is an orange....#fucknadella....#bringbackballmer
  • This is how this strategy COULD work. Let’s fast forward to 2017... Across all mobile platforms, Microsoft have daily active: 100M Outlook users, 50M Sunrise Users, 100M Office Users, 100M OneDrive Users, 50M OneNote Users, 50M Grove users, 50M Cortana Users etc etc. High percentage of these users are happy, paying and receiving updates and Microsoft is building loyalty and brownie points. These services are all outperforming their rivals because Microsoft have deep pockets (from Enterprise) and the best engineers in the productivity field with years experience. So in 2017, Microsoft change strategy and begin App updates first on their own Windows 10.2 Mobile. So that all of the users who want an update, need to wait on iOS/Android for the update to come over AFTER we (Windows 10.2 Mobile) users have already been enjoying the features. This ensures us faithful fans always have the best version. Suddenly, they feel like 2nd class citizens waiting for the latest updates. Microsoft at this point is so confident in its Apps, that it can now begin marketing users to move over to Windows 10.2 Mobile. Why not? While Apple are benefiting from this arrangement now (they need to keep iPhone’s popularity up and try restart iPads floundering), Long term this could work in Microsoft's favour, though not sure how many of us will still be here...
  • Some where I agree with your point. But Microsoft have to set with some short term benefits too attract the consumer market. Enterprise is their main business and its obvious their money comes from there. Long run Satyas strategy is very nice and I expect I fan say him do a lot with Azure and IOT devices. Dynamics business and office products are performing great for them right now. Their short term benefits like sp3, band and their long term products like surface hub, hololens would benefit them.
  • I don't have a problem with Microsoft being on any other platform or device. My issue though is Nadella's public position that the "best experience" will be on the Microsoft platform when there is nothing about that statement that is true. In almost every single situation you look at, the worst experience is on the Microsoft platform where consumer software, OS, and services apply. Quit telling us we are going to have the best experience when that simply isn't true and they know they are lying when they say it! 
  • To windows 10 mobile to have a successful position in the industry first is not to think to beat android. Bcoz they earn a lot thru them. Second they have to target and market their smartphones properly like to the enterprise users to the flagship users etc. They know somewhat also for their low cost lumias. They should keep that running and not make the phones so fragmented. They earn a lot thru android patents. they have their apps on ios and android too. So the business should flow like that. Enterprise users need familiarity what they use. So MS should Provide them with such solutions.