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Microsoft's consumers want to know: 7 questions for Satya Nadella

Mark Hachman | Feb. 7, 2014
It's back-to-school time for Satya Nadella, Microsoft's new CEO.

3. Mobile first: What does that mean, exactly?
Nadella's new mantra is "mobile first, cloud first." But what will that mean over the long haul? 

It's hard to believe the office paradigm of a screen, a computing device, and a keyboard will go away anytime soon. But once out of the office, the hardware landscape opens up. Intel envisions a smart earbud that you can talk to. Nuance and Omate built a smartwatch to do the same. Will we use a screen? How will we interact with our data? How does Microsoft build out Sync, and the Microsoft-powered car?

The pat response would be something like, "we're preparing for a future where all of these scenarios take shape." But that also begs the question of whether Microsoft software powers that future. Intel has quietly added a lower-power tier to its chip architecture: the Quark chip, including the next-generation Edison designed for products like the smart earbud. So far, Microsoft has left its Windows Embedded OS to power point-of-sale devices and other products consumers rarely think about. But as devices get smaller, what will Microsoft's response be?

4. Office is stale. How does Microsoft invigorate it?
The last major innovation that Microsoft introduced to the Office that we know and love was a pricing revision: Office 365. But aside from adjustments made to the UI, including the ribbon interface in Office 2007 and 2010, each subsequent revision introduced tweaks, not earth-shattering features. 

Microsoft's strategy of late appears to have been to inject documents with live data, culled from Bing and the Web. And that's a powerful change, admittedly. But for many, long used to crafting documents to be read once, then archived, those improvements simply aren't part of their normal workflow. If the challenge is then to educate users about the benefits of such improvements, how does Microsoft go about it?

5. Assuming I invest my data in Microsoft, when will my data and apps be able to roam freely among all my Microsoft devices?
Part of this question obviously touches upon issues raised before: namely, the confluence of Windows and Windows Phone, and how services connect the ecosystem. But I'd like to know, as you probably would, when Office will arrive on the iPad, for example. Limiting the ubiquity of apps and services to specific platforms may make business sense, but as a consumer, it evokes the same reaction as DRM on a song or a game: This is mine! I should be able to with it what I want!

Microsoft built the Xbox One as a PC-like console that includes apps like Internet Explorer. But users still have to worry about tracking down compatible apps for all of their various Microsoft platforms. I'm not sure if there's a solution here, but I'd like to hear Satya's thoughts on the matter.


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