Satya Nadella's brief tenure as head of Microsoft has been marked by an increasingly urgent struggle to win back the attention of consumers wooed for the last decade by innovations from Google and Apple. But even the launch this month of a Windows update that could arguably be the tech giant’s most important product in a decade may not be enough to spark new momentum from its legacy users.
The once-dominant tech firm sent a powerful message about its future on Monday with deals that shed payroll and sold off peripheral services. It cut its losses in digital advertising, selling its operations to AOL after failing to see a return on billions of dollars of investments in the last decade, while online car-service Uber acquired the division behind the mapping capabilities of Microsoft's search engine, Bing.
Both moves were clear evidence of the company's decision to re-emphasize its core products – none more important to it than the Windows operating system that put its co-founder Bill Gates and the Redmond, Washington, firm on the map in the 1990s. Nadella is looking ahead to July 29 when the company will launch Windows 10 as an update that will link Microsoft's PC, tablet, mobile and gaming platforms, interconnecting and elevating the products in a manner the company hopes will make it competitive with the rivals that have overshadowed it.
Nadella has very publicly steered Microsoft toward a “mobile-first, cloud-first” goal since last February, when he was promoted to CEO after 22 years at the company. Since then, he has worked to move Microsoft beyond what critics say were the failures of former CEO Steve Ballmer to recognize and take advantage of the rise of mobile and cloud technologies that Apple and Google began to dominate in the early 2000s. Aside from its Xbox game system, Microsoft did not generate much excitement from consumers during those years and its products underperformed even as the iPod and the iPhone propelled Apple into the world's most valuable company, now worth more than $700 billion.
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