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Microsoft's US$84 million man: What's Nadella done to earn it?

Tim Greene | Dec. 18, 2014
Windows 10, cloud gains, lower license fees for hardware vendors are bold moves whose effectiveness is yet to be determined.

Windows 10
Release of Windows 10 is already looming on the 2015 horizon, and if the lessons learned from Windows 8 are included, they should go a long way toward making it more attractive to the average user who just wants to get the machine to work without having to learn a new interface.

Microsoft is so confident that it's fixed these problems that it makes the claim that there is "no learning curve" for users of Windows 10 if they have used Windows 7.

That's quite a bold claim for Nadella to endorse given the tepid reception Windows 8 and 8.1 have gotten so far. Things were so bad for Windows 8 that Microsoft undid some of the newness of it when it released Windows 8.1. It was a well calculated bid to lure users of Windows 7 to the newer operating system whose touch-first user interface was intimidating to mouse-and-keyboard customers.

Perhaps most significant, Windows 8.1 can boot directly to the desktop, which is different from the Windows 7 desktop but very familiar compared to the former Windows 8 default to the Start screen.

If it hopes to hold onto Windows' claim to being the world's most prevalent operating system it's got to come up with a successor to Windows 7 that the world can embrace. A lot is riding on Windows 10.

Office 365 incentives
In addition to the perks already mentioned above, under Nadella Office 365 now comes with unlimited storage in OneDrive, the cloud repository for storing and sharing documents. This is a feature for both consumer and business versions of the service, making it a significant offer for businesses looking to reduce capital and operational expenses. By contrast iCloud offers 5GB for signing up for the service.

Office 365 is free to students when universities buy it for faculty and staff. Students can keep using it for a year after they graduate and can buy their own four-year subscription for just $79.99.

Microsoft said in the spring that going forward Office 365 will have features that on-premises Office will never have because they require too much processing. For example, this fall the company has introduced Delve, a machine-learning application available only through Office 365 because it requires machine learning that in turn requires massive processing that only the cloud can provide. So if a user has a meeting scheduled Delve will parse the agenda, gather relevant documents and compile information about other participants automatically, freeing up the user from having to do that prep work.

Delve is an ongoing rollout and it remains to be seen whether it and other Office 365-only applications will be enough to attract long-term customers.


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