Microsoft gets its groove back

Steve Ballmer chose an unfortunate time to leave Microsoft, as many of the initiatives developed under his watch are really starting to pay dividends ... let's think about the 3 big trends helping Microsoft get its groove back, leaving the company poised for a fantastic 2015.


1.  Windows 10

Windows 8 was led by Steven Sinofsky, who left the company with a much damaged repuation.  Early reviews of Windows 10 point to its return to a clearer, more logical divide between desktop and tablet modes.  Given the pent up demand for Windows upgrades (much of the world has been limping along on XP and Windows 7), even a modest improvement in version 10 could lead to huge sales.  Microsoft appears to "get it" in terms of excercising more restraint, and showing more respect for customers ... I think Windows 10 will be a great return to form. 

2.  Azure and Office 365

Azure is really starting to impact the cloud discussion, and I expect 2015 to be the year that the market wakes up and realizes Azure is giving AWS a run for its money.  For Microsoft shops in particular, Azure can be a much better value proposition.  Add to this Microsoft's indisputable financial strength and the breadth support organization, and they look like the cloud partner to beat.  By contrast, Amazon's has huge problems in its core delivery business raise questions about their longevity in cloud services, and ability to continue with the needed cloud investments.  Look for Azure to take over starting in 2015.

Office 365 is becoming the new standard for corporations, where Exchange online now powers all corporate messaging ...  email, address books, calendars, etc.  Meanwhile the Office desktop apps continue to dominate, but now can be provisioned from the nifty Office 365 interface.  

3.  Tablets cooling off, hybrids take off, and new form factors emerge

Tablets are great, but the replacement and upgrade cycle is long, similar to what is seen in other consumer durables such as televisions.  Meanwhile new form factors such as the Lenovo Yoga or Microsoft Surface seem to offer real convenience and value to business users.  These market trends should help Microsoft a lot as Microsoft is still the only vendor to offer business device that can function as a laptop and a tablet.  Look for more excitement around new form factors as Windows 10 hits the market, and Microsoft grows emboldened by its Surface Pro success.  

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