A few years ago, Silicon Valley and Wall Street saw Microsoft as irrelevant and perhaps even doomed to failure.
The company’s latest CEO, Satya Nadella, has done a lot to turn that impression around in the last two years. But there’s still a lingering impression that the real power in tech lies with newer Internet-based companies like Facebook, Google, and Amazon.
But there’s one area where Microsoft is way ahead of almost every other tech company: global reach.
Windows has been the global standard for computing for decades, which means there are millions of people worldwide who make their living selling or building software on Microsoft technology. That gives the company a lot of fans, and a lot of potential customers moving forward.
In an interview with Business Insider, Nadella noted that people in Cuba and Iran reached out to him as soon as those countries opened for business with the U.S., asking if they could be Microsoft partners:
I was just going over some email a month ago or so where I get this mail from someone in Cuba who says, Hey, I am a Windows reseller in Cuba, and we have a huge Windows community here. We have lots of servers that are Windows Server. I want to sign up now as a partner.
I got the same thing as soon as our circumstances changed in Iran. Iran is a complete Windows country when it comes to the Office automation side. “We really need you guys to get in here.”
Every country I go to there are local partners, local ISVs [software makers], people in healthcare, people in education, people in transportation. These are all systems built on the backbone of our technology.
While Google and Facebook also have global reach, they don’t have the same longstanding network of partners who rely on them to make a living.
Nadella also took a little dig at Google’s Project Loon, the company’s plan to deliver global Internet access through balloons, and said that Microsoft hopes to work with local entrepreneurs to use already-available TV white space to improve access instead. “My ambition with connectivity is not to fly balloons in the national airspace of other countries, but my dream is to be able to enable the local entrepreneurs to have low-cost connectivity solutions.”