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In the Zone

Microsoft shifts focus away from Windows, toward AI & cloud

Peter Krass's picture

by Peter Krass on 03/30/2018
Blog Category: Devices

It’s not your father’s Microsoft anymore.

The company’s CEO, Satya Nadella, yesterday announced a major corporate reorganization. The moves shift Microsoft’s focus away from Windows and toward the newer technologies of artificial intelligence and cloud computing.

Windows logo

As part of the reorg, Terry Myerson, a 21-year veteran of Microsoft and head of its Windows and Devices Group, is leaving the company, according to a memo CEO Nadella emailed yesterday to all Microsoft employees.

New groups

As part of the shift, Microsoft is also creating 2 new groups:

> Experiences & Devices: Led by Rajesh Jha, formerly head of the Microsoft Office group, this group will “instill a unifying product ethos across our end-user experiences and devices,” Nadella says.

> Cloud + AI Platform: This group will be led by Scott Guthrie, formerly head of Azure. Nadella says it will “drive platform coherence and compelling value across all layers of the tech stack starting with the distributed computing fabric (cloud and edge) to AI (infrastructure, runtimes, frameworks, tools and higher-level services around perception, knowledge and cognition.”

In his note, Nadella says the new groups will aim to “accelerate our innovation and better serve the needs of our customers and partners long into the future.”

What about Windows? Responsibility for the OS will be divided into different functions. Windows devices, mainly Surface 2-in-1s, will be overseen by Jha’s Experiences & Devices team. The main platform will be overseen by Guthrie’s Cloud & AI Platform.

Sweeping move

Of course, all this is more than a corporate reorg. It’s a major shift in Microsoft’s focus.

“This is the most sweeping reorg that I can recall,” Brad Silverberg told the Wall Street Journal. Silverberg ran Microsoft’s Windows division back in the Windows 95 days.

Still, as the company shifts its focus to AI and the cloud, Windows remains huge. As the WSJ points out, Windows runs on more than 1.5 billion devices around the world, of which more than 600 million are running the latest version, Windows 10.

It’s a big business, too. In Microsoft’s most recent financial quarter, the company’s More Personal Computing unit reported revenue of $12.2 billion. That was over 40% of Microsoft’s total revenue for the quarter.

Clearly, Microsoft expects this to change. For example, Microsoft has said that it expects two-thirds of its Office users to move to the Office 365 cloud-based subscription service by next year.

Could Windows, too, become a cloud-based subscription service? Your father’s Microsoft wouldn’t have thought so. But yours? It most likely will.


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