After spending months interviewing potential candidates, Microsoft has finally named veteran insider Satya Nadella as the next CEO. Satya Nadella will be replacing the outgoing CEO Steve Ballmer, who announced his retirement last August. Satya Nadella becomes only the 3rd CEO in Microsoft’s 39 year old history. The list of executives Microsoft had their eyes on, included some of the well known names in the industry like, Nokia’s Stephen Elop, former head of Skype Tony Bates and Ford CEO Alan Mulally. There were also rumors that Microsoft was in talks with Google’s Sundar Pichai; but eventually they settled for an experienced insider from the company.
Who is Satya Nadella?
Satyanarayana Nadella (now known as Satya Nadella) was born in 1967, in the Guntur District of Hyderabad in India. His father, an IAS officer, was a special secretary to the Prime Minister of India, Manmohan Singh, sometime ago. Satya Nadella completed his early education at the Hyderabad Public School. According to Satya himself, during his childhood he had a passion for playing cricket. Well, we are not surprised at all. He even played for the school team. “I think playing cricket taught me more about working in teams and leadership that has stayed with me throughout my career” says Satya.
Satya Nadella completed his Electronics and Communications Engineering degree in 1988, with a first class, from the Manipal Institute of Technology. (Note: Some sources claim that he graduated from Mangalore University). MIT director Vinod V Thomas, who taught Satya 25 years ago, spoke to Times of India and he says, “I recall him as a sober and cool-headed student, not much into extra- or co-curricular activities.” Satya, then moved to the United States, where he completed his MS in Computer Science, and MBA.
He worked briefly with Sun Microsystems before joining Microsoft in 1992 at the age of 24. He is now 46 year old and has spent 22 years at Microsoft. Why did he choose Microsoft? “I am here for the same reason I think most people join Microsoft – to change the world through technology that empowers people to do amazing things. I know it can sound hyperbolic – and yet it’s true. We have done it, we’re doing it today, and we are the team that will do it again.” says Satya Nadella. He also says that “Many companies aspire to change the world. But very few have all the elements required: talent, resources and perseverance. Microsoft has proven that it has all three in abundance.”
Satya Nadella (Pic Courtesy: Microsoft)
When asked to define himself, Satya Nadella says “Like anyone else, a lot of what I do and how I think has been shaped by my family and my overall life experience. Many who know me say I am also defined by my curiosity and thirst for learning. I buy more books than I can finish. I sign up for more online courses than I can complete. I fundamentally believe that if you are not learning new things, you stop doing great and useful things. So family, curiosity and hunger for knowledge all define me.”
He was a Senior Vice President at Microsoft and back in 2011 he got promoted as the Head of Server and Tools Business at Microsoft, that focused on cloud computing and enterprise business. Satya Nadella who played a big role in improving Bing Search, has played a key role in bringing some of Microsoft’s most popular technologies, like database, Windows server and developer tools, to the cloud service, called Azure. He also helped Microsoft bring a cloud version of Microsoft Office to the cloud, Office 365, which is a fast growing product.
In the first interview (embedded below) he gave after taking up the CEO role, he says he is both “honored and humbled” to succeed Bill Gates and Steve Ballmer as the third CEO of Microsoft.
“I came here because I believed Microsoft was the best company in the world. I saw then how clearly we empower people to do magical things with our creations and ultimately make the world a better place. I knew there was no better company to join if I wanted to make a difference. This is the very same inspiration that continues to drive me today. It is an incredible honor for me to lead and serve this great company of ours. Steve (Ballmer) and Bill (Gates) have taken it from an idea to one of the greatest and most universally admired companies in the world.”- Satya says in his first email to the employees of Microsoft, after taking up the new role.
Speaking about the current challenges of Microsoft, Satya notes- “Our industry does not respect tradition – it only respects innovation,” He also says that “The opportunity ahead for Microsoft is vast, but to seize it, we must move faster, focus and continue to transform. I see a big part of my job as accelerating our ability to bring innovative products to our customers more quickly.”
“While we have seen great success, we are hungry to do more,” he notes. “This is a critical time for the industry and for Microsoft. Make no mistake, we are headed for greater places – as technology evolves and we evolve with and ahead of it. Our job is to ensure that Microsoft thrives in a mobile and cloud-first world.
“I’m a learner,” Nadella says. “I think the thing that I realized is, what excites me is that I’m learning something. I can learn something about some area. I can learn something from people. I can learn something from doing things differently. And I admire that in other people, too. I fundamentally believe that if you are not learning new things… you stop doing great and useful things. So family, curiosity and hunger for knowledge all define me.”
Satya Nadella believes that Microsoft has a great workforce. “One of the things that perhaps excites me the most is when I come across something at work, whether it’s somebody who’s really done a great feature in software, come up with a fantastic idea in pricing or done a great customer program, or just an approach to their job that is innovative or brought teams together – and I just, wow, I marvel every day at how people can excel – and that’s what really gets me going.” he says.
According to Microsoft, their new CEO finds relaxation by reading poetry, in all forms and by poets who are both Indian and American. “It’s like code,” Satya says. “You’re trying to take something that can be described in many, many sentences and pages of prose, but you can convert it into a couple lines of poetry and you still get the essence, so it’s that compression.” Indeed, he says, the best code is poetry.
He also enjoys watching Test cricket, “which is the longest form of any sport in the world,” with games that can go for days and days. “I love it,” he says. (Another reason to like him!) “There’s so many subplots in it, it’s like reading a Russian novel.”
From Left: John Thompson (New Chairman), Satya Nadella (New CEO), Bill Gates and Steve Ballmer. (Pic courtesy: Microsoft)
In his email to Microsoft employees, Satya Nadella quotes Oscar Wilde – “we need to believe in the impossible and remove the improbable.”
“This starts with clarity of purpose and sense of mission that will lead us to imagine the impossible and deliver it. We need to prioritize innovation that is centered on our core value of empowering users and organizations to “do more.” We have picked a set of high-value activities as part of our One Microsoft strategy. And with every service and device launch going forward we need to bring more innovation to bear around these scenarios.” says he.
He also says that, “every one of us needs to do our best work, lead and help drive cultural change. We sometimes underestimate what we each can do to make things happen and overestimate what others need to do to move us forward. We must change this.
I truly believe that each of us must find meaning in our work. The best work happens when you know that it’s not just work, but something that will improve other people’s lives. This is the opportunity that drives each of us at this company.”
“Many companies aspire to change the world. But very few have all the elements required: talent, resources, and perseverance. Microsoft has proven that it has all three in abundance. And as the new CEO, I can’t ask for a better foundation” says Satya Nadella on a finishing note.”
Meanwhile, Bill Gates, founder and former CEO will be stepping down from his role as a Chairman and he will be returning to a larger role as a technology advisor at Microsoft. John Thompson (former Symantec CEO and lead independent director of the board at Microsoft, who was also part of the team that selected Satya as CEO) will be taking over as chairman. In his welcome message to Satya Nadella, Bill Gates says “During this time of transformation, there is no better person to lead Microsoft than Satya Nadella”
“Satya is a proven leader with hard-core engineering skills, business vision and the ability to bring people together. His vision for how technology will be used and experienced around the world is exactly what Microsoft needs as the company enters its next chapter of expanded product innovation and growth. There’s a challenge in mobile computing. There’s an opportunity in the cloud.” Bill continues.
Declining PC sales have caused trouble to Microsoft. Windows Phone has been a moderate success. On the other hand Microsoft’s enterprise solutions and cloud based tools have started to bring in more revenue. And Satya Nadella was the one who was heading these areas. And Microsoft has huge hope in him that he will lead Microsoft back to it’s glory by adapting the global trends.
Microsoft Corp sold over 1 million of its new Xbox One game consoles within 24 hours of their hitting store shelves on Friday, on par with Sony Corp’s PlayStation 4 despite launching in far more countries.
The new console, which launched in 13 countries, set a record for first-day Xbox sales and is currently sold out at most retailers, Microsoft said in a statement.
Sony said it sold 1 million PS4 units in 24 hours after launching last Friday in just the United States and Canada. The PS4 expands to other regions, including Europe, Australia and South America, from November 29. It then hits Japan in February.
Microsoft is locked in a console war with Sony this holiday season. The software giant hopes the Xbox One not only entices gamers but attracts a broader consumer base of TV fans and music lovers with its interactive entertainment features and media apps.
“We are working hard to create more Xbox One consoles,” said Yusuf Mehdi, corporate vice president of marketing and strategy at Xbox.
Robert W. Baird & Co analyst Colin Sebastian has said he expects shipments of 2.5 million to 3 million units for both the Xbox One and PS4 in the fourth quarter.
Both the PS4, priced at $399 in the United States, and the Xbox One, with a price tag of $499, offer improved graphics for realistic effects, processors that allow faster game play and a slew of exclusive video games.
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Today Microsoft took the wraps off its holiday hardware lineup, unveiling two new tablets, and a number of new and updated accessories. It’s a lot of information to process, so let’s go through each piece in order.
I spent time in Redmond last week with the new hardware, and the team behind the Surface project itself. Hands on notes regarding the Surface 2 and Surface Pro 2 will be published following this piece, along with an extensive interview with Brian Hall, current general manager of the Surface effort, and Panos Panay, corporate vice president at Microsoft and chief of Surface.
For now, you need an overview of what’s new. We’ll get granular shortly. Here’s the once-over.
The Surface 2 is the second generation of the Surface RT, though its name doesn’t take after its ancestor. In its most basic formulation, the Surface 2 is quite similar to its predecessor: It is an ARM-based tablet that supports attachable keyboards, and is built to make Windows 8(.1) sing.
That aside, Microsoft has made across-the-board improvements to the product itself. Battery life has been bettered by 25%. A new processor (the NVIDIA Tegra 4 chip) has improved speed and graphical performance. The kickstand now includes a second, deeper angle that makes using the device on your lap far simpler. It has a new look, with a silver magnesium case that resists fingerprints, and is sturdier. It has improved cameras to better support low light settings, helping you Skype with folks in darker rooms. And, it’s cheaper, starting off at $449 – Surface RT headed into the market for $499.
If you think that Windows 8.1 matures the Windows 8 platform sufficiently for daily use, and that the Windows Store has become populated enough with applications in its year of life, the Surface 2 could be a device that you enjoy. Certainly, the hardware has has improved greatly since its first generation. The question becomes how well Windows 8.1 can take advantage of those upgrades.
Frankly, the Surface 2 is a very good-looking device, and one that I would feel great using at a cafe if I ever worked in such desultory locales.
In that vein, its success is quite tied to that of Windows 8.1: The better Windows 8.1, the more the Surface 2′s upgrades can shine through. The Surface 2 (again, in my very limited hands-on time) proved a capable device. I can see students loving it, for example.
SURFACE PRO 2
If the upgrades to the Surface 2 were broad and various, the changes to the Surface Pro 2 are targeted and vertical: It’s all about battery life, baby. According to Microsoft – and more on this later – it received constant feedback that business customers were interested in the Surface Pro, but could not bear its underperforming battery life. The company is frank that its first generation Pro lacked in that department.
So, instead of changing the device externally a single mote, Microsoft rejiggered the guts of the unit into what it calls the Surface Pro 2, which will have around 60% better battery life, a figure that it claims can skew higher in certain use cases.
The Surface Pro 2 has been bumped up to the Haswell generation of Intel chips, can contain up to 8 gigabytes of low-power DDR RAM, and a SSD that can reach the half-terabyte mark. It also receives the new kickstand position, which Microsoft is proud of, mostly because it works.
The Surface Pro 2 looks like its predecessor, is the same size and weight, but lasts longer, and goes harder and faster if you kit it properly. It starts at the same price point as its forefather: $899.
FREE DIGITAL GOODIES
Microsoft is stapling two things to each new Surface that you buy: 200 gigabytes of SkyDrive storage for two years, and a year of Skype service that includes international calling. The play here is simple: Buy a Microsoft device, and the company’s services come along with it. Microsoft, as you certainly recall, is pursuing a “devices and services” model – this is the fusion of the two.
If you were to buy 100 gigabytes of SkyDrive storage for a year, it would set you back $50. You currently can’t buy 200 gigabytes at a time. So, the SkyDrive perk is worth $200 – theoretically – by itself. Microsoft is essentially buying your digital storage custom with the deal.
The loser? Other storage companies that do not match that scale, such as Box.
NEW TOUCH COVER
The old Touch Cover was a neat piece of hardware that I, and perhaps you as well, never really mastered. It was never quite where it needed to be for me to fully trust it. Microsoft, in the past year, has built a new Touch Cover that contains 14 times as many sensors, along with firmware upgrades.
In practice, better software and a boatload of new on-keyboard sensing technology make the new Touch Cover a far superior typing experience. Would I replace my mechanical keyboard with the new Touch Cover? No, but it would make typing on an airplane a far simpler if I lived with a Surface device.
The new Touch Cover is thinner and lighter than its predecessor, and is backlit.
Most interesting in the new Touch Cover are gestures: Slide two fingers across the number key line, and the Touch Cover will highlight text. Release, and the selected text will be deleted. A spacebar gesture talks to Windows 8.1′s word recommendation system. There are others input methods which are worth learning. I had some trouble finding my sea legs in quick testing, but would have been able to master the set in a day, I think.
The original Touch Cover was perhaps the most innovative part of the Surface lineup. Microsoft has taken its initial product, and greatly improved it.
What’s the downside? A high price point of $119 per new Touch Cover. That’s equivalent to the price of the original Touch Cover, released last year.
KEEPING THE OLD
The above are the most important parts of the new hardware announced today, so this is the proper moment to take an interlude and discuss what Microsoft is keeping from last year’s line of devices. The Surface RT, for $349, and the original Touch Cover, for $79, will remain on sale for the foreseeable future.
Microsoft likely has quite a number of extra units of both that it would love to get rid off, and having the cheaper set of hardware in the market allows it to, in a way, combat both the iPad Mini and Chromebooks, devices that are absorbing chunks of the lower-end PC market.
However, keep in mind that the key marketing point of the Surface line is that it is a tablet that let’s you get shit done, roughly. But you can’t really do much in terms of productivity with a Surface without a keyboard, and that means that the lowest Windows 8.1 tablet-to-get-stuff-done point remains north of $400 when you factor in its keyboard accessory. Microsoft could release a bundle of Surface RT and Touch Cover for $400, but the company told me that it has moved away from bundling its hardware, so don’t expect it.
Here’s the funny part: Microsoft Office 2013 Professional, for a single user on a single PC, currently costs $400 on Amazon. That’s nearly as much as a Surface RT and Touch Cover that come with the basic Office suite. We’re seeing hardware price declines clip the top end of software costs. It’s a market trend to keep in mind.
Microsoft has produced a new, third keyboard variety for its Surface tablets: The Power Cover. It’s thicker version of the Type Cover, essentially, that can greatly add to the amount of juice your tablet can drink from.
I was told that a Surface Pro 2 with a fully charged Power Cover can last roughly 2.5 times as long as a Surface Pro with a Type Cover. Snap a Power Cover on your current Surface Pro, and you’ll get around 60% more battery life.
So, if you have a long flight ahead, this Cover could be the one for you. I don’t have pricing details at this point, but expect the Power Cover to cost between $150 to $200.
One neat trick about the Power Cover is that so long as it has energy, it will dump it into the Surface. So, if you have a 90% charged Surface Pro 2 attached to a Power Cover with any battery at all, it will upload that power into the tablet itself, even while stashed in a briefcase. Not a cheap solution, but an option for those who need it and aren’t price sensitive.
NEW TYPE COVER
Along with the new Touch and Power Covers, Microsoft has remade its Type Covers to include quieter keys, backlighting, and different colors. So, if you want to have a keyboard that includes moving keys for your Surface, you can get it in magenta, or blue. Whatever strikes your fancy.
Previously, while Touch Covers came in a number of colors, the Type Cover was stuck in a Fordian black, befitting its more business focus. Well, it would appear that folks wanted their typing to be a bit more stylish.
The dock. This leaked ages past, but it’s worth discussing here briefly. The Surface dock is a move by Microsoft to better integrate its Surface Pro 2 device into the workplace.
It has USB 3.0 and 2.0 ports, an ethernet jack, a Mini Display port, and two audio jacks. If you use all four USB ports, Microsoft confirmed to TechCrunch that the dock can support them all at full power.
The dock works in the following way: You place your Surface Pro 2 device (keyboard can stay attacked) in between the twin arms of the dock, which you then press into the unit, with one port on either side of the device used to hold it in place.
From there, you have wired Internet, peripherals as you need, and, of course, simple multi-monitor support. You can also yank the Touch Cover and use a larger keyboard if you want.
OTHER BITS AND PIECES
What else is out today? A wireless adapter for Touch and Type Covers that turns them wireless, so you can type back from your screens. I’m not sure how popular the doodad will be, but if you can use a Touch Cover on a non-Surface device, that could boost the popularity of the pair.
Finally, Microsoft has created a mouse-variant called the Touch Mouse Surface Edition. It’s designed to work with the Surface devices. I honestly don’t have much on it, but if I get my hands on one, will review it for you.
That is the rough lay of the land. TechCrunch has more breaking news and analysis on the way, so strap in.
Source : http://techcrunch.com/2013/09/23/meet-microsofts-surface-2-surface-pro-2-new-touch-type-covers-and-more/