Satya Nadella lays out case for Microsoft's intense focus on the cloud

Satya Nadella on stage at Microsoft Ignite 2019
Satya Nadella on stage at Microsoft Ignite 2019 (Image credit: Daniel Rubino/Windows Central)

What you need to know

  • Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella spoke at a recent media event about the company's focus on growing its cloud business.
  • Nadella emphasized Microsoft is bullish on having a piece of the next 46 billion internet-connected devices with its cloud business.
  • Windows, iOS, and Android are still important, Nadella says, but IoT, data centers, and the connected edge will become a greater focus for Microsoft going forward.

Since he took over as Microsoft CEO, Satya Nadella has shifted the company's focus past Windows' billion users and toward a cloud-connected future. This is evident in the company's surging year-over-year growth with each successive quarter, a significant portion of which is because of its cloud success. Now, Nadella has offered some insight into how he sees Microsoft's cloud business, and why it's become such a point of focus for the company.

At a media event last week, reported by The Verge, Nadella laid out the case for Microsoft's cloud future.

"The way I look at it is Windows is the billion user install base of ours. We continue to add a couple of hundred million PCs every year, and we want to serve that in a super good way," Nadella said. "The thing that we also want to think about is the broader context. We don't want to be defined by just what we achieved. We look at if there's going to be 50 billion endpoints. Windows with its billion is good, Android with its 2 billion is good, iOS with its billion is good — but there is 46 billion more. So let's go and look at what that 46 billion plus 4 [billion] looks like, and define a strategy for that, and then have everything have a place under the sun."

The sphere of Internet of Things (IoT) devices is rapidly growing, and Azure offers Microsoft an opportunity to take part in that growth. Looking at Windows, Nadella explained he's even started to view it as an extension of Azure.

"Sometimes I say, 'Hey, look. Should I call Windows... Azure Edge?" Nadella said. "Our new organization that manages all of this at the core kernel level and the hardware ... that team is the same. Whether it is something that is on Surface or something on Azure host, it's literally the same people."

The push for cloud dominance has left some Microsoft watchers fearful that Microsoft is somehow giving up its bread and butter: Windows. However, Nadella continued to point out that Microsoft's emphasis on the cloud as its "next big thing" doesn't mean it's sacrificing other platforms.

"We are absolutely, no question, allocating a lot to what is that next big thing," Nadella told reporters. "But at the same time, we're also not saying that's our way back to saying all of iOS, all of Android, and all of Windows will suddenly be subsumed by this one thing. If anything, what people have come to realize is that Windows is there with a billion users, iOS is there with a billion users, and Android is there with 2 billion users. It's not like one killed the other."

Dan Thorp-Lancaster

Dan Thorp-Lancaster is the former Editor-in-Chief of Windows Central. He began working with Windows Central, Android Central, and iMore as a news writer in 2014 and is obsessed with tech of all sorts. You can follow Dan on Twitter @DthorpL and Instagram @heyitsdtl