Microsoft's mobile gambit hasn't paid off, but its march to the cloud has been exceptionally successful. Second only to AWS, Microsoft Azure has attracted hordes of developers -- and not Windows devotees alone. Foley writes, "Microsoft's top brass and Wall Street seemingly are far more focused on the services that attach to Windows and/or are sold on top of Windows than on Windows itself."
Listen in on a Microsoft earnings call, however, and what comes through clearly is exactly how much the company cares about Microsoft Azure, almost to the exclusion of its legacy Windows world. As Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella noted more than a year ago:
Our application experiences for our cloud endpoints will be native in Windows, and at the same time we'll make sure our services will be available on all endpoints, driving more usage modes of subscription growth. The best way to measure our progress is Office 365 subscription growth, Azure subscription growth, and EMS [Enterprise Mobility Suite] growth.
Commenting on this statement, Mark Hachman explains, "That stance diverges from the traditional view of Windows as the foundation of the Microsoft empire. In Nadella's interpretation, Windows is more like a trellis, supporting Microsoft services as they twine up, around, and through its beams."
With the company's increasing OS agnosticism (SQL Server on Linux? No problem!), Microsoft is prepared to make money with a new breed of cloud developer, one who cares more about getting code running than on a religious fixation on an operating system. "Windows developers" are increasingly Azure developers, working within containers and other methods of building code that concern themselves with applications, not infrastructure.
The beginning of the end of the OS
This focus on functions and higher-order programming is "obviously not" the whole story, Bray points out, as "every Lambda I've ever looked at is mostly callouts to databases and REST endpoints and messaging APIs." That said, "they really do mean that you never have to argue Debian vs Red Hat again, and that feels like real progress."
It is progress, and it's interesting to see Microsoft disrupting itself along with AWS and Google. That, more than anything, suggests that the end of Windows may be the beginning for Microsoft, not its end.
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