Microsoft's Nadella: Congratulations on 12 months of not being Steve Ballmer

Hard yards and difficult years lie ahead

It’s Satya Nadella’s first year as chief executive of the world’s largest software company.

What has happened during that time? My Reg colleague Neil McAllister listed the notable developments here earlier today.

Over the past 12 months, we've seen Windows 10 as a preview; Office for iOS, Android and even HoloLens; a new version of the Surface slablet; the open-sourcing of .Net and several acquisitions.

The biggest headline-grabber was its purchase of Minecraft-maker Mojang for $2.5bn.

Cue wistful sigh: can that man do no wrong? Some certainly seem to think so, as his firm Thursday was reported to have bought the maker of a Calendar app for $100m.

Many of those projects announced in 2014 would have been long in gestation and begun under the tenure of Nadella’s predecessor Steve Ballmer.

The project converging the Windows PC and phone cores with Windows 10 had been long running – as was development of Windows 10, the retreat from Windows 8. A new version of Surface was inevitable, of course.

The achievements that can be attributed to Nadella in the last 12 months now Ballmer is gone would have been business calls: buying Mojang was one of these.

Another such decision was to give Windows away for free on devices with screens smaller than nine inches, a move made four months into Nadella’s tenure.

Satya, you're so better than the other one that was sat here

Arguably Nadella’s biggest achievement is the fact he’s new ... and not Steve Ballmer.

Since he grabbed the wheel in February 2014, Microsoft’s stock price has gone up by 24 per cent to January this year.

You can debate about why the growth occurred: some would say it’s the flow of onwards and upwards product news since February – putting Office on iOS, for example.

Ballmer was Windows first and last, and putting one of the crown jewels such as Office on a non-Windows platform like iOS would have been unconscionable.

Years before, Ballmer was dragged into Microsoft’s server admin products, working with Red Hat Linux in addition to Windows Servers.

At the time, Nadella was a new face with a fresh and platform-agnostic approach: hailing from Microsoft’s Server and Tools business, his heritage was working with rivals.

Nadella’s face fit a change agenda that Wall St, investors, fans and the industry as a whole wanted but which would have been impossible under Ballmer.

He also suited a company that didn’t want, or was unable to find, an outsider to run things.

What exactly does Nadella represent? He’s talked windily of cloud first and mobile first, but how Microsoft will make money from this?

Why buy Minecraft's maker – for the machine learning and the ecosystem? And how does that actually translate into money for Microsoft.

Elsewhere, the idea is to seed the market with Windows devices that feed Microsoft’s data centres with business and consumer data though services like Office 365 for which it charges users on subscriptions. It’s double bubble.

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