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View from Redmond via Tim O’Brien, GM, Platform Strategy at Microsoft

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Core information:

Tim is currently touring Europe as part of preparations for the upcoming Build 2014 conference. He had an opportunity to meet some people in Hungary as well which allows me now to summarize how they see the current sitution from Redmond:

  1. Consumers are now calling the shots <—> consumerization of IT”, i.e. enterprise computing is not ruling ICT alone any more, and as a result of BYOD the private, consumer devices are even dictating.
  2. Sales are not simple for developers anymore” Instead of the earlier uniform way of selling developers should use the most sophisticated approaches—think of the fremium, or advertisement based models as examples—in order to earn their revenue.
  3. No matter how much things like ‘identity’ are alien to developers without these things they are not credible partners to the enterprises
  4. The times of single platforms are gone, as developers own several platforms now
  5. Instead of traditional big IT companies thinking in terms of commercial software, like IBM and HP, those Silicon Valley startups which are well capitalised via VCs and turning at full steam towards the enterprise market (e.g. Dropbox) are more and more significant for Microsoft”. For more information I was looking for a current background: Dropbox Makes a Move Into the Enterprise [Businessweek, Nov 13, 2013].

This is what was left in my head after the meeting from the current situation point of view, as the most important elements of the actual view of the world from Redmond.

Tim O’Brien arranged his introductory speech around three topics: mobile first, cloud first and openness. In this regard I had two questions for him:

  1. As far as cloud first and openness are concerned he didn’t mention the OpenStack initiative. This is, nevertheless, has a growing significance as IBM, Dell, and especially HP—all crucial for the enterprise business of Microsoft—are building their own cloud business on OpenStack. How Microsoft is looking at that, what is his position? The essence of Tim’s answer was that on one hand these companies are the ones who are thinking in terms “commercial software”, as it was mentioned before, and that their own public cloud offerings are not so much developed yet, on the other. OpenStack has not made big difference for them yet.
  2. The basic line of thought was built on “mobile first” and “cloud first”. I met “cloud first” last summer with regards to Microsoft at TechEd, primarily through the words of Satya Nadella, who is the CEO now (see “Cloud first” from Microsoft is ready to change enterprise computing in all of its facets [‘Experiencing the Cloud’, June 4, 2013]). Since then, however, I’ve seen such interpretation of this by the media, that from now on Microsoft will develop its software for the cloud and that’s it. What does he think about that? Tim was rejecting this simplification, and then, at somewhat greater length, was elaborating that Microsoft was much more considering the cloud interfaces (APIs) in the development of their software in this regard. He even illustrated that with the fact that async was introduced into the latest .NET 4.5.1.

Since regarding “cloud first” Tim even mentioned that this is a quite common concept, I browsed the web back at my office to find out the actual case. By doing so it came out that in the U.S. it is indeed the case but only in the realm of so called federal computing.  As Microsoft interpreted that concept after Satya Nadella overtook the “cloud & enterprise” business in 2011, and then started to use that with the external preview readiness of the corresponding developments at the TechEd last summer, even that carried a wider meaning. Overall, the interpretation of the “cloud first” concept cannot be considered common at all, especially outside U.S. Who are interested in my web-based study could read my “Cloud first”: the origins and the current meaning [‘Experiencing the Cloud’, Feb 18, 2014] post on this blog.

With this result on hand I got interested in finding out what is the case with “mobile first”. The similar “Mobile first”: the origins and the current meaning [‘Experiencing the Cloud’, Feb 18, 2014] post is not only giving the denial of commonality of this second basic concept from Microsoft, but even makes one to realize how much emphasis IBM put on MobileFirst (not a typo) in its platform strategy, already one year publicly, in which almost immediately achieved spectacular results. This magic quadrant from Gartner is the proof of that (works as a teaser as well):

After this it came to my mind what was missing from this whole view of world from Redmond. That which was detailed in my earlier Device businesses should have a China-based independent headquarter at least for Asia/Pacific if they want to succeed [‘Experiencing the Cloud’, Jan 28, 2014] post. Tim was just mentioning in his introduction that 2 years ago nobody would have thought with Samsung overtaking Apple. … My reaction to that would be that you in Redmond are not even considering the “non-Samsung, non Apple” part of the below chart:

as well as with these charts:

not speaking of this video:

Hugo Barra, Vice President, Xiaomi Global & Loic Le Meur, LeWeb Founders- LeWeb’13 Paris – [LeWebYouTube channel, Dec 11, 2013]

Hugo is a good friend of LeWeb, having joined us several times during his time at Google. This year he updates us on his new role at Xiaomi, running their product portfolio and operations in all markets outside Mainland China. He shares his views on the tech sector in China and where it is headed.


imageThis post was first made in Hungarian: Kilátás Redmondból Tim O’Brien tolmácsolásában (‘Szoftver aktualitások’, 2014. február 19.). I asked Gabor Fari (Director, Business Development and Strategy, Health & Life Sciences at Microsoft, Greater New York City Area), as my closest acquaintance to corporate Microsoft today, to do something regarding this mobile computing issue within Microsoft.

To my shocking suprise I got a completely unfounded barrage of accusations from him instead. I put a screenshot of the Facebook exchange in which the blunt accusation part was as follows (since the exchange was in Hungarian):

The arrogant tone of your articles I can’t understand either. You dissed Chris Capossela. Now you’ve done the same to Tim O’Brien. Both of them I know and respect, and I believe that they are on top of their professions. From the tone of your articles my conclusion is that you believe MS is managed by incompetent gimps.

One thing I asked Gabor Fari regarding these blunt accusations, is to prove them, i.e. give concrete examples what text from the above post (since here is an English version of the original one in Hungarian) is proving “The arrogant tone of your articles”, “You dissed Chris Capossela”, “Now you’ve done the same to Tim O’Brien”, “From the tone of your articles my conclusion is that you believe MS is managed by incompetent gimps.”

As I didn’t get any reply, and quite probably won’t get in the future either, I am getting really worried. Not because of such unfounded judgement of my post, but because I am a Microsoft shareholder as well. I am extremely worried for my extremely tiny part of the whole $313.35 billion market capitalisation Microsoft is worth currently.

So through a response to this post I will offer Gabor Fari the last chance to respond to my appeal to prove his unfounded judgements via concrete examples from the above post. If he will not do so than nothing is left as to turn to the board of directors of Microsoft with a warning that corporate complacency is much more inside Microsoft than one might have thought before, and this will definitely make things worse than one could have thought before

P.S. in the P.S. As Gabor Fari was declaring that “You dissed Chris Capossela” I searched through all my postings about Chris Capossela, and found only the following one, which I couldn’t understand either, how on the Earth that might be considered a “dissing of Chris Capossela”?

Here is the traslation of that (later a screen-shot containing the Facebook discussion in Hungarian):

Microsoft in the direction of the market failure? Chris Capossela was shining (literally) for half an hour today expounding “devices and services” and “enterprise and consumer”, as the directions Microsoft is taking in both regards. That is the the fact that every other company COULD realise just a part of that.

WHY, THEN, IN THE DIRECTION OF THE MARKET FAILURE? Because it is not only the case that Capossela could not be found on the net with such an exposition, but NO ONE ELSE!!! PUT IT SIMPLY THE MARKETING (WITH BEST MEANING of the word) is not working in Microsoft.

The best what I’ve found: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o9g-0XMwqvs

Prof. Judith Bishop of Microsoft Research gives a talk at the 30th anniversary of the Dept. of Computer and Information Science, Linköping University, Sweden.

This is not marketing [as it is from Microsoft Research]

And found also this: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XefFb8DbpCg

Kevin Turner’s presentation at Microsoft 2013 Financial Analyst Meeting that occurred on September 19, 2013. He is Microsoft’s Chief Operating Officer.. His presentation covered Microsoft’s current position in the enterprise and consumer spaces as well as Microsoft’s transition to a devices and services company. He discussed the Xbox, Surface, Windows Phone, Windows, Office, Azure, Skype, Yammer, and various enterprise businesses. Some highlights: 7:43 Devices and Services focus. 2:49, 11:22, 25:03 Xbox One and Xbox Live. 26:19, 26:51 Microsoft in the mobile space. Office Mobile across all platforms. 10:07 Azure and the cloud.services including Skype, SkyDrive, Outlook.com, Bing, Xbox Live, MSN, Yammer, Office 365, Intune Dynamics CRM Dynamics ERP, SharePoint, Lync, Exchange, SQL Server, and Hyper-V. 30:19 Windows Phone. 31:18 Nokia acquisition. 32:39 Windows Haswell OEM devices. 11:35, 23:17 Skype, Lync. 21:40 Social trends in enterprise, including SharePoint, Yammer, Lync, Skype. 33:46 Microsoft and the retail buying experience (Microsoft Store, Best Buy, Dixon’s). 35:09 Big data, including SQL, Excel, SharePoint, Hadoop, Microsoft BI, 37:17 Summary.

[comments other people put here I am not translating]
In addition Capossela is the leader of the Consumer Channel Group, and when he won this position in 2011, he won that of Chief Marketing Officer position as well … IMHO totally deserved. Since Tami Reller got the top marketeer position he has been ranked back so much that in connection with the purchase of Nokia Ballmer wrote about him as “Regarding the sales team, we plan to keep the Nokia field team, led by Chris Weber, intact and as the nexus of the devices sales effort, so that we can continue to build sales momentum. After the deal closes, Chris and his team will be placed under Kevin Turner. We will develop a single integrated team that is selling to operators, and there may be other integration opportunities that we can pursue. Kevin will work with Chris Weber and Chris Capossela to make those plans.” See: http://www.microsoft.com/…/2013/sep13/09-02email.aspx

despite of the fact that even from the interview made with him one could see his extraordinary stance [in marketing]:  The New Windows Store Only at Best Buy (by Brandon LeBlanc)

[comments other people put here I am not translating]

The Facebook discussion in Hungarian:


Follow up:








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