In its annual financial filing with the SEC for its just-ended 2015 fiscal year, Microsoft has an entire new section entitled “Our vision.”
As part of that section, it lays out its top three priorities for research & development for the coming year.
And they may not be what you think.
- Reinvent productivity and business processes.
- Build the intelligent cloud platform.
- Create more personal computing.
None of these are especially new — the first refers to the ongoing evolution of Microsoft’s popular Office 365 productivity suite and related products. The second refers to the Microsoft Azure cloud computing product. Both of those are looking like big hits for Microsoft so far, with subscription revenue starting to come in.
The third one is something a little different for Microsoft, and it’s something the company’s been talking up for a while now.
Windows 10 is here, and Microsoft is positioning it as an operating system for the post-PC era. Amid shrinking PC sales and the still-growing market for mobile, Microsoft wants to make sure that its products and services can be everywhere, always.
Windows 10 is a part of that.
The new operating system is landing primarily on desktop and laptop computers right now, but Microsoft wants to be sure that Windows 10 works just as well on tablets (like its own successful Surface tablet/laptop hybrids), connected home devices, and basically whatever else, forever.
The other part of that mission harkens back to those first two bullet points. With Microsoft providing productivity applications and the Cortana digital assistant for iOS and Android right alongside its own Windows platforms, it wants to make sure that you’re using its apps no matter where you’re at.
Microsoft is fond of calling this a win for consumers, since it means your apps, data, and preferences follow you from device to device, making for, yes, “more personal computing.”
And the Microsoft Azure cloud is designed for developers who want to swipe a credit card and throw supercomputing power behind the scenes of their app, no matter what platform on which that app will run.
Ultimately, the takeaway here that Windows is a part, but not the whole, of the overall Microsoft strategy. Windows 10 exists to integrate with and push those services, but those services are becoming the main event.
Quite a contrast with a company whose mission used to be “A PC on every desk and in every home.”