Satya Nadella answers pressing questions about Windows Phone and Microsoft

Satya Nadella

Mary Jo Foley from ZDNet held a comprehensive exclusive interview with Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella yesterday, right after his Worldwide Partner Conference keynote. In it, she asked him about the future of Microsoft in the mobile sphere and many other questions that people have been asking Microsoft’s CEO to be direct about. The entire interview is insightful and gives a great look at Microsoft from the perspective of its leader. These are just a few major highlights:

Microsoft is not leaving the mobile market

Lumia 1520

When asked by Mary Jo Foley “So, does Microsoft cutting back on the number of Windows Phones you make mean you are getting out of the mobile market?” Satya Nadella began by frankly saying “Not at all.” He then continued to explain what mobile means and how Windows Phone plays in.

He admitted that Microsoft wrongly assumed the desktops would be “the hub for everything for all time to come.” He then made points that answer many questions the media and fans have been asking about the future of Windows Phone.

Nadella speaks of Windows Phone in the future sense, not something they’re going to kill in the near future. Quotes like “When I think about our Windows Phone, I want it to stand for something like Continuum” and “that’s what I want our devices and device innovation to stand for” don’t sound like a CEO tickling the kill switch for Windows Phone. He even specifically addressed last week’s news:

Last week’s announcement was not about any change to our vision and strategy, but for sure it was a change to our operating approach… I’m not going to launch a phone a day. I’m going to focus on a few phones that actually grab share that, in fact, showcase our uniqueness.

Nadella showed an awareness of Windows Phone’s low market share and wants to take steps to make it unique that will “actually grab share.”

The Surface analogy made by Kevin Turner is largely correct

Surface and Lumia

Foley asked about the analogy to the Surface, basically that Microsoft makes devices that show off what a platform can do and then other OEMs make competing devices on that platform. Nadella said the analogy was correct. He also clearly stated how the Lumia line will play a roll with Windows Phone “if no OEM stands up to build Windows devices we’ll build them. There will be Lumia devices.”

The draw of Universal apps is the desktop

Nadella didn’t mince words about Windows Phone’s market share. He repeatedly talked about 3%. When asked why people would develop Universal apps after last week’s announcements he said that “The reason why anybody would want to write universal apps is not because of our three percent share in phones. It’s because a billion consumers are going to have a Start Menu, which is going to have your app.”

Nadella is very aware that the high user numbers are on the desktop. When explaining the roll of the Start Menu in Windows 10 he stated that “If anything, the free upgrade for Windows 10 is meant to improve our phone position.”

The three phone segments announced last week represent different priorities

When asked about the three segments of phones, Nadella took some time to break down the differences between the categories. A takeaway is that different users have different priorities. Where a business will value security and custom apps, a value user is more about Skype and Office for “the first time smart phone buyer.”

HoloLens in business, not just gaming

HoloLens

When asked about where HoloLens will play a roll and be utilized, Nadella stated that it will initially be about enterprise and developers, specifically referencing hospitals, healthcare, and retail. He did point out however that he purchased Minecraft to “create a new genre of gaming for mixed reality.” Nadella pointed out that Minecraft is the number one PC app, console app, and paid mobile app on iOS and Android. In Nadella’s eyes, HoloLens will “bride consumer to enterprise.”

Microsoft and Google, and other big name companies having partnerships

Mary Jo also asked Nadella about Microsoft’s relationships with big companies including Google. Even though the media and other companies often points out how Microsoft has changed how it works with other large companies, Nadella doesn’t view it that way. He pointed out that many multi-billion-dollar companies were “built on top of Windows.” He even went as far as to say that Google wouldn’t exist if they couldn’t have “built a browser for Windows.” He calls Windows a “platform company, and wants to keep that up. Microsoft has formed major partnerships with SalesForce, Dropbox, Adobe and more and partnerships like that look to continue to be a part of Microsoft’s future.

Nadella also added that he’d love to have Google work with them more, specifically referring to YouTube on Windows Phone and Chrome on Windows (referring to an app, Chrome is already available on the desktop).

The Surface Mini

While the majority of the interview was on the future of Microsoft, Mary Jo also asked Nadella about the Surface Mini. She asked about how Nadella decides what makes a product different enough to launch (the Surface Mini not being released is reported to partially be because it wasn’t differentiated enough). Nadella responded by saying that he “actually [doesn’t] even care about as much initial grand success in terms of volume or share. Does it meet a specific scenario…”

It’s a brilliant interview and is worth taking the time to read.

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