A cloud for everyone, on every device

In my initial remarks as CEO, I spoke about how Microsoft is embracing the new “mobile-first cloud-first” world. I’ve gotten great feedback around this declaration from customers, employees and partners who are excited to see us communicate this commitment so emphatically. I’ve also been asked a number of interesting questions about the language I used. A common one is actually the simplest and most important to answer: How can two things be first?

My honest answer is that I don’t think of the cloud and mobile as two things. They are two facets of one thing. The cloud was created to enable mobility. And mobile devices are really uninteresting without the cloud.

That’s why I talk about them together. Mobile without cloud is limiting. The cloud without mobile is mostly latent potential. But the place where they meet is magic. And in the full arc of time, we will get to a world of ubiquitous computing and ambient intelligence that powers all our daily experiences. That’s my focus for this blog post: not everything that Microsoft does but specifically how Microsoft’s cloud is enabling a world where mobile devices can do more and help people be more productive starting today.

Microsoft is embracing the 'mobile-first, cloud-first world
Microsoft is embracing the ‘mobile-first, cloud-first world

March 27, 2014


We live in a world where device types, shapes, sizes and form factors are exploding and will continue to do so. Devices extend our abilities in ways that are uniquely suited to task, context and occasion. As long as human curiosity and ambition drive us to create new things, capture moments and collaborate to get things done, we should expect the world of devices to follow suit. In fact, that’s what drives our ongoing evolution of Windows: the desire to maximize the capabilities of these diverse device types while fitting perfectly into those unique moments and environments. But just because human activity will continue to be multidevice doesn’t mean we must tolerate islands of isolated capability. Instead, device diversification dramatically increases the importance of creating a more seamless experience. And the way we get there is through the cloud.

The cloud is how a phone, a tablet, a computer and a TV all get on the same page and enable movement between them without extra effort. The cloud is how a device becomes your device. And the cloud is how your device becomes part of your life, by connecting to all the people, information and experiences that matter to you. And for us, the cloud is also how a tablet becomes a useful and powerful tool.

So with that in mind, I’d like to talk about how we’re enabling a world in which anyone can make things happen, on their terms.

A great idea shouldn’t have to wait for you to get back to a particular device. An impromptu call with a customer shouldn’t be delayed because you don’t have the right data on hand. Life moves too fast to put limits on where and how you work. Just as the best camera is the one you have with you, sometimes the right device is the one closest at hand. Simply put, our vision is to deliver the best cloud-connected experience on every device.

We’re bringing Office, the gold standard in getting things done, to the iPad. A billion people rely on Office every day, and we’ve worked diligently to create a version of Word, Excel and PowerPoint that delivers the best productivity experience available on the iPad. It’s built from the ground up for touch, is unmistakably Office in its design, and is optimized for iPad. Office for iPad offers unmatched rendering of content and delivers unparalleled authoring, analysis and presentation experiences that Office customers expect on all of their devices. Download it today for free.

We’ve offered Office on the Mac for more than 20 years. Taking the next step and making it available for iPad users too is another way Office delivers on its promise to give anyone the power to make things, and make things happen, any moment of the day.

And we are fully committed to offering market-leading productivity solutions across all popular platforms and devices. Word, Excel and PowerPoint for iPad join other cross-platform apps including Skype, Dynamics, Xbox Music, Bing, Lync, Yammer, OneNote, Office Mobile for iPhone and Android phones, Mac Office, and Office Online. Our goal continues to be to delight users wherever they are and on whatever device they are using by giving them the full power of native Office apps.

Of course, people engage in an amazingly diverse array of activities on the job today, and it would be naive to think that Office could cover every task, scenario or requirement out of the box. That’s why developers are so important. They imagine and build the additional and more specialized capabilities that drive business forward. So we make the same platforms that we use to develop and deliver these cross-platform services available to developers. They can use Azure Mobile Services to build back-ends for iOS, Android and Windows devices. Azure AD API enables single sign-on and other directory services. We have APIs for all components of Office 365 including OneDrive, OneNote, Exchange and SharePoint so that any mobile application on any device platform can seamlessly access user data. Developers are living on the frontier of this mobile-first cloud-first world, and we’re committed to helping them make the most of their unique position and opportunity. They share our commitment and passion for giving people the power to get things done.

At the same time, that power needs to be managed. I’m sure you know the story of the “Sorcerer’s Apprentice.” It’s all great until it isn’t. And if management and security take more time and money than they save you, where’s the productivity gain?

That’s why we aren’t just focused on one dimension of the experience. The people who use apps and services want things to be seamless. One sign-on, one set of files, one consistent identity, regardless of device type. It’s a reasonable request, but the people who support these users know it isn’t always that simple. So we’re also introducing our new Enterprise Mobility Suite to make managing and securing these devices as easy as using them. So employees are free to go where they want, without data ending up where it shouldn’t. And it can also extend your enterprise identity to other apps and services like Salesforce.com, Box and Google Docs. Now, the same cloud that helps people get more done with less work will help IT do the same.

We’re a few days away from BUILD, our developer conference, where next week we’ll share where we’re going with key platforms like Windows, Windows Phone, Xbox and Azure. BUILD is also a great forum for highlighting one of the defining characteristics of our company: From our very first days as a company we have always been equally committed to meeting the diverse but intertwined needs of developers, businesses and the people who use our products. We unite these three audiences around a common set of experiences, technologies and tools. Tools for writing and deploying apps and services, tools for managing and securing devices and tools for getting things done. All working in concert with one another, all through the cloud. For the cloud to realize its full potential, the needs of these three constituencies must be addressed in a holistic, integrated way. Microsoft is in a unique position to do that.

The cloud is enabling a world where you can walk up to any supported device, sign in, collaborate, communicate and share your creations with the world. Doesn’t matter what you make, where you make it or what device you use. The cloud is there to help.

That’s where we’re headed together. Into a world where the devices you love work with the services you love in a way that IT and developers love. For work, play and everything in between.