Analysis Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella talked up the big changes he has in store for the company during a conference call with financial analysts on Tuesday. And among his plans were "universal" apps that can run on any Windows platform.
There was little talk of layoffs, beyond what Nadella and new Microsoft phones boss Stephen Elop discussed last week. Redmond plans to issue pink slips to as many as 18,000 workers in the coming year, most of them from Nokia's manufacturing divisions.
Instead, Nadella used the opportunity to boast of the restructuring and realignment going on inside the company – and this time, he mostly managed to do it without resorting to the kind of bloviating and empty jargon that made his recent six-page memo to employees so stultifying.
The key, he said, lies in shaking up a business that has relied too long on processes that it developed in the earliest days of the PC industry.
"The diversity of products that Microsoft has – from silicon tape-outs to services that we are continuously updating in Azure or Office 365 – is a lot more than when we first created the Microsoft engineering system," Nadella said. "That was for retail, packaged products."
Engineering for tomorrow, today
In future, Nadella said, Microsoft's engineering groups will not only be restructured to span both the cloud and on-premises worlds, but consumer products and those targeted for enterprise customers will be more closely aligned, as well.
For example, the OneDrive and OneDrive for Business engineers now work as a single team, as do the Outlook and Exchange groups and the Skype and Lync teams.
It's safe to say we can forget about "devices and services" under Nadella, too. Former CEO Steve Ballmer started using that phrase to describe Microsoft's future direction just 12 months ago, yet it wasn't uttered once during Tuesday's call.
To hear Nadella tell it, Microsoft is rather a "productivity and platform company for the mobile first, cloud first world" – which might not be as pithy as Ballmer's mantra, but it's a phrase that appears, at least, to express a grander vision than the chair-flinging ex-CEO had for the company.
While Ballmer was desperate to claw back share of the smartphone and tablet markets from Apple, Nadella doesn't see selling devices as an end unto itself.
"Mobility for us goes beyond just devices," he said during the call. "While we are certainly focused on building great phones and tablets, we think of mobility more expansively."
And while Nadella didn't hesitate to mention that sales of Redmond's Surface 3 fondleslabs are outpacing those of earlier iterations, he also said that Microsoft isn't really interested in competing with its OEM partners, and that one of the main goals for the company's hardware division will be to develop innovative products that define new categories.
"We are not in hardware for hardware's sake and our first-party hardware will be aligned with our strategic direction," he said.