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Microsoft returns to its roots at Build with smart cows

Rob Enderle | May 4, 2015
I was the top launch analyst for Windows 95 and that product effectively launched me and I've worked with that firm for two decades now. Since then I've watched and been troubled by the many unfortunate changes and mistakes Microsoft has made.

Think about it — if you are a farmer who raises cows and you can double your production you'll quickly be able to buy out your neighbors and/or underprice them to drive them out of business. All you have to do is instrument your cows and tie them to the system Microsoft showcased.

However, their point was that with cloud services this capability is quickly being made available to smaller farmers who can then subscribe to services that do the analysis for them and they don't have to incur the massive upfront technology costs that only large farms can afford.  

Reactor space: Microsoft's rebirth

Machine learning is when machines use AI techniques to train themselves. You typically see this concept in slides and maybe being used by very large wealthy companies.   The core technology isn't cheap, but provided as a subscription you get similar economies of scale and the benefits then pass to far smaller companies.

One of the firms on Microsoft's stage was eSmart, a startup firm with 40 members that has rapidly increased their revenue into the millions in the Smart Power Grid market, a segment normally dominated by huge firms, through the use of cloud capabilities that weren't available to small firms until recently. Apparently, Microsoft is revisiting the opportunity that created them because they then announced Reactor Space.  

Reactor Space is Microsoft now fully embracing this idea of driving otherwise expensive technology down into companies that may only have one employee, the poor sap trying to build something. Not just down, but out as this effort will be in 26 cities in the U.S. It is their effort to get into the 'maker' movement and enable the little guy. Because often it is the little guys that can do the most innovating, because no one told them they couldn't do something amazing.  

The most powerful thing at Microsoft Build

There were a lot of powerful things at Microsoft Build this year. The Intelligent Cloud effort, Office becoming a platform again, and, of course, Windows 10. However I think the most powerful thing was likely Reactor Space.  

When Microsoft was formed, it was formed around the little guy. At the beginning it was the antithesis of huge companies that couldn't talk to the little guy like IBM. Then for some sad reason they spent decades trying to be IBM and lost themselves as a result. Reactor Space is indicative of their effort to go back to their roots, in fact I think all of Build is about getting back to Microsoft's roots, and those roots are enabling the developer with the small guy taking center stage again.


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