3 Ways Microsoft@40 Looks Futuristic

by Sohini Bagchi    Apr 06, 2015


Microsoft has just turned 40. The four-decade long journey saw Microsoft evolving into one of the world’s largest technology companies - founded by Bill Gates and Paul Allen - and is marked with numerous milestones. The last 16 months have been even more remarkable, just like its initial days, when Microsoft was fresh, radical and futuristic.

Incidentally, that’s when Satya Nadella took over from Steve Ballmer to head the world’s most coveted organization. Under the India-born tycoon, Microsoft is ‘rejuvenated’ - mobile and not quite obsessed with the legacy of Windows. Experts believe, Microsoft has now made strides, changing its focus – making itself more relevant in the new tech world led by mobile-focused rivals such as Apple and Google and is looking at futuristic technologies to gain over its rivals.

Read: The Man And His Mission@Microsoft - Satya Nadella Demystified

Here’s some ways in which Microsoft is gearing up for a renewed future.

No.1 The new Microsoft is open

The tech major is looking to advocate an open-source version of Windows — a change that would alter the grand scheme of operation. Where Ballmer called the Linux open-source operating system a “malignant cancer,” and Bill Gates snubbed open source, Nadella proclaims, “Microsoft loves Linux.” Recently, Microsoft’s Microsoft engineer Mark Russinovich declared that its stable revenue stream would be jeopardized if the OS was underpinned, claiming that “it’s a new Microsoft.” The comment is astounding given that the company has mocked open-source platforms for decades and vehemently opposed the idea of giving away their code for free.

With Google making Android open source, Microsoft is not far behind, as it has shifted focus on mobiles and cloud service to create a market independent of the OS the user operates. “It’s a new Microsoft,” Russinovich reasserted.

Times are changing for Microsoft as it made its .Net framework open source last year – a sharp contrast from the days former CEO Steve Balmer called open-source platform Linux a “malignant cancer”. The framework allows developers to build apps for windows and other platforms. Moreover, Nadella said that Microsoft supports a variety of open source software applications on its cloud and that 20 percent of Microsoft’s Azure cloud is already Linux along with CentOS, Oracle Linux, Suse, and Ubuntu. 

No. 2 Changing the way we talk to machines—and each other

In a letter to his employees, Bill Gates lauds one of the projects called Cortana, the artificially intelligent personal assistant for Windows mobile devices and soon, PCs as well.

“It’s Microsoft’s answer to Google Now and Siri, the latter of which we haven’t heard much about from Apple lately. I don’t know about you, but my most frequent use case for Siri is when I shift my weight slightly in my chair and my ass inadvertently summons her for no reason. That isn’t to say that voice recognition isn’t going become a commonplace means of interacting with machines in the future. Indeed, Microsoft is clearly betting on it,” he said.

In fact, speech recognition is getting so good that computers can now act as translators between human beings. Skype Translator is Microsoft’s attempt to achieve exactly that, something that Gates calls out with pride in his letter. Of course, Microsoft isn’t the only company working on this technology, but its eventual inclusion in a product as widely used as Skype is a pretty big deal.

No. 3 Reality gets virtual and holographic

By far the most jaw-dropping and unexpected thing Microsoft unveiled at its Windows 10 event in January was HoloLens. The holographic augmented reality glasses open up all kinds of applications in gaming and design, which is really just the beginning. Like Oculus Rift, HoloLens appears poised to change the way people interact with machines and the physical world itself.

In addition to calling out these three products directly, Gates hints at a future push to challenge the digital divide among consumers of different backgrounds, experiences, and geographies:

“Microsoft is a different company now. Microsoft is not making stupid mistakes,” Trip Chowdhry, at Global Equities Research told a leading news daily.

Read more: 7 Reasons For Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella’s Success

In the coming years, Microsoft has the opportunity to reach even more people and organizations around the world, as the company states that technology is still out of reach for many people, because it is complex, expensive, or they simply do not have access. Nadella too believes, 2015 itself is more of a reinvention and re-strategizing year for the company.

As tech analyst Gordon Kelly too mentions: I like the new Microsoft – the one under Satya Nadella. It is a company which both plays to its traditional strengths yet is also prepared to rip up the copy book to modernize… and I believe that the biggest changes are clearly still to come…