Steve Ballmer just finished a short surprise appearance on stage at Microsoft’s Build conference and laid out Microsoft’s seven main product areas.They are:
- Smartphones (via Windows Phone)
- PCs and tablets (Windows)
- Living room entertainment (Xbox)
- Cloud computing (Windows Azure platform)
- Productivity (Office and Office 365)
- Search (Bing)
- ERP and CRM (Dynamics)
This is a little different than Microsoft’s five product areas it uses for financial reporting.
But most striking was the mention of Azure — a cloud-computing platform that has so far gotten little traction — instead of software infrastructure products like Windows Server, SQL Server, and System centre, all of which have well over $1 billion a year in sales.
Azure and these products are all part of Microsoft’s Server & Tools group, whose longtime leader Bob Muglia was replaced earlier this year. At the time, some speculated that Muglia and Ballmer had a falling out over strategic direction. This makes it pretty clear that Ballmer has bet big on Azure — a bet that Muglia might not have been as comfortable making, given the success of Microsoft’s infrastructure software business while he was running it.
Ballmer also made a couple plugs for Windows 8: he mentioned that Microsoft has already delivered 500,000 downloads of the first Windows 8 test release, which was just released last night, and boasted that developers will be able to target more than 500 million upgradeable PCs on the day Windows 8 is released.
UPDATE: Later in the day, talking to financial analysts, Ballmer modified this speech a little bit and referred to the company’s “infrastructure” business as including both Windows Azure and Windows Server. But it’s still striking given how small Azure is today, and how big these other businesses are.
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