Up until a few years ago, experts in the innovation space were using Microsoft as a case study for failing to innovate.
They showed how Microsoft had “missed the boat” on several important technological trends, including losing search to Google, smartphones to Apple, operating systems and Office to Web 2.0 applications and apps to both Apple and Google.
And to a degree, they had a point. Since Bill Gates handed over the reigns of CEO to Steve Ballmer, an Operations-focused Executive, Microsoft had managed to significantly grow its reach, revenue and profitability of its core Windows, Office and Server products. But this focus on current product optimisation and sales came at the expense of looking at future strategy, which is where Microsoft missed all of the opportunities mentioned above. In fact, Stanford University professor Steve Blank has shown that quite often, when visionary company founders finally step down, they are often succeeded by more operations-focused executives to help build more stable growth for the company, but this often leads to decreasing rates of innovation and ultimately stagnation of product lines.
“Our industry does not respect tradition. It only respects innovation.” – Satya Nadella, 4/2/2014
Then in early 2014, Ballmer passed the CEO torch on to Satya Nadella, who was much more aware of the need to stay innovative. And to say that he has managed to restore the innovation momentum at the company would be an understatement.
Within just two months, Nadella had completely changed Microsoft’s core ethos and business model, going from being product-centric to being service-centric. Within a year, he released innovative new hardware concepts to the world like Surface tablets and HoloLens. A few months later, he showed the world that the company was now a major player in hardware innovation with the Surface Book.
And then this week, Microsoft again held their Windows 10 event to show off their newest innovations, including both new hardware and updates to Windows which will have a bigger impact for future generations than you might expect.
Here is a video showing off all of the major announcements: