Business

Microsoft dumps mobility from its Vision

Goodbye 'mobile-first and cloud-first world', hello 'intelligent edge infused with AI'

By Simon Sharwood

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Microsoft has dropped any mention of mobility from its strategic vision.

The change emerged last week in Redmond's Form 10-K, the annual warts-and-all documents public companies are required to lodge with the United States Securities and Exchange Commission.

Microsoft's vision is usually outlined in a section of the 10-K titled either “Our vision” (2015-17) or “Our increasing focus on services presents execution and competitive risks” (2013-14). While the phrase “strategic vision” isn't used in the 2013 10-K, we've included a similar statement from the section in the table below.

Here's the last five years' visions.

Year 'Strategic vision'
2013 A growing part of our strategy involves cloud-based services used with smart devices
2014 In July 2014, our leadership announced its strategic vision to compete and grow as a productivity and platform company for the mobile-first and cloud-first world. 
2015 Our strategy is to build best-in-class platforms and productivity services for a mobile-first, cloud-first world.
2016 Our strategy is to build best-in-class platforms and productivity services for a mobile-first, cloud-first world.
2017 Our strategy is to build best-in-class platforms and productivity services for an intelligent cloud and an intelligent edge infused with artificial intelligence (“AI”).

Why the move from a “mobile-first and cloud-first world” to “an intelligent cloud and an intelligent edge infused with AI”? Microsoft's abandonment of Windows Mobile is well known – it hardly has a horse in the race any more, at least in terms of a platform. But Microsoft's Cortana assistant is available on Android and Apple's iOS, so the company has a way onto plenty of devices other than PCs. Skype runs on everything. Office 365 is multi-platform. So Redmond has lots of ways to add value at the edge and in the new 10-k explains how it plans to use it as follows.

Microsoft leaks more strategy elsewhere in the 10-K. An Azure, for example, we learn that Redmond it is “the only company with a public, private, and hybrid cloud platform” and that “What differentiates Azure is our hybrid consistency”, which sounds a lot like “we have Azure Stack and no-one's close to us with that.”

The 10-K also reveals that “Commercial cloud annualized revenue run rate exceeded $18.9 billion,” for the year, after counting all cash brought in by “Office 365 commercial, Azure, Dynamics 365, and other cloud properties.”

FY 2017 is the first full year in which Microsoft owned LinkedIn, and the social network therefore gets its firs risk statement, as follows:

LinkedIn faces competition from online recruiting companies, talent management companies, and larger companies that are focusing on talent management and human resource services; job boards; traditional recruiting firms; and companies that provide learning and development products and services. Marketing Solutions competes with online and offline outlets that generate revenue from advertisers and marketers.

There's also a nod to Donald Trump's views on H-1B visas in the form of an observation that “Changes to U.S. immigration policies that restrain the flow of technical and professional talent may inhibit our ability to adequately staff our research and development efforts.”

One thing that hasn't changed is Microsoft's identification of Open Source as a competitor, or its observation that companies offering such code "do not bear the full costs of research and development for the software." ®

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