We Just Learned Satya Nadella’s Master Plan For Microsoft

Satya Nadella
Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella. Screenshot

The big news from Microsoft today was that it has finally launched Office for iPad, which will give users full access to the popular productivity suite if they sign up for the Office 365 subscription service.

But under the surface of the announcement, we got our first look at CEO Satya Nadella’s broader vision for Microsoft’s future. Nadella has only been CEO for 52 days, but we’re already getting a sense of how he plans to expand the company’s offerings beyond its core products like Windows.

In short, Nadella sees Microsoft powering all sorts of devices through services and apps like Office. It doesn’t matter if the device runs Windows or a competing platform like Android or iOS. Microsoft wants to be powering what you do on every gizmo.

“We think about users both as individuals and organisations spanning across all devices,” Nadella said during today’s launch event.

He went on to mention the growing trends at big companies. Many people prefer to use their personal devices for work, and a lot of those aren’t powered by Windows.

It’s a slight shift from the narrative Microsoft has been pushing since 2012, when the company decided to transition to one that makes devices and software, not just software. But a lot of that software was focused on Windows. Now we’re going to see Microsoft branch out, even if that means running its software on devices and operating systems built by its biggest competitors like Apple and Google.

And it will all be tied to your Microsoft account. In this case, if you’re paying for an Office 365 subscription, you’ll be able to access and edit your documents on Windows PCs, Windows tablets, Windows Phones, and now the iPad. It wouldn’t be a stretch for Microsoft to expand that to Android tablets and other platforms one day too.

When Nadella was first named CEO a few weeks ago, John Gruber of Daring Fireball probably put it best when describing where Microsoft is headed:

Microsoft services, sending data to and from every networked device in the world. The next ubiquity isn’t running on every device, it’s talking to every device.

Based on what we saw today, that appears to be exactly what Microsoft is doing.