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February 4, 2014updated 22 Sep 2016 11:03am

Five key points new Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella makes in letter to staff

Steve Ballmer’s successor outlines what Microsoft must do to thrive in “cloud-first world”.

By Joe Curtis

Microsoft has finally named its third chief executive, recruiting from within to replace Steve Ballmer.

Satya Nadella now takes the helm, filling the shoes and possibly tucking in the rather-too-large shirts of Ballmer, who literally made a song and dance over his resignation back in September.

Nadella, the former VP of Microsoft’s Cloud and Enterprise group, wrote a letter to staff in which he suggested what the company needs to do to hit the heady heights of its ’90s heydays once again and here CBR picks out the five key points he makes and what it says about Microsoft’s probable future direction.

Our job is to ensure that Microsoft thrives in a mobile and cloud-first world.

This statement is nothing that hasn’t been said before by a thousand analysts or even Microsoft itself, but it’s important that Nadella acknowledged it. Rumours have persisted that Ballmer was pushed to resign early after dropping the ball on mobile, with the company’s recent purchase of Nokia’s handsets a belated sign that it is trying to enter the space.

Nadella’s cloud background could also prove vital for Microsoft, and probably helped land him the job: Office 365 has a decent reputation, and we’ve also got lots of other cloud innovations like SkyDrive, its storage product, and Azure, its business cloud service.

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Cloud enterprise is the space where Microsoft could become a leader, and Nadella’s putting that aim right at the top of the agenda.

I’ve asked Bill to devote additional time to the company, focused on technology and products.

Nadella’s casual manner belies the complete turnaround this news represents, just four months after three members of the Microsoft board lobbied hard for the firm’s founder, Bill Gates, to quit the company completely.

They’d been worried his presence could block new schemes and dilute the influence of the new CEO, but clearly Nadella doesn’t share their sentiments. Gates appears pretty happy with the new boss himself, congratulating him in this video.

The opportunity ahead will require us to reimagine a lot of what we have done in the past for a mobile and cloud-first world, and do new things.

Taken literally, this sounds like Microsoft is going to adapt its former offerings for the mobile and cloud spaces. With the clear caveat that the company must continue to innovate in the cloud, it’s not a bad idea to update past groundbreaking applications for a new age – but will what caused a paradigm shift in the ’90s be as revolutionary today? Any such update needs to consist of more than just a facelift, but the possibilities it has to play with (will we see it produce mobile apps of its products?) are vast.

As we look forward, we must zero in on what Microsoft can uniquely contribute to the world.

As any startup will tell you, it’s smart to focus on the single thing you do better than anyone else, but what is Microsoft’s specialism?

It has so many fingers in so many pies. This could take a bit of brainstorming from the board, but with Nadella’s background it’s sure to be in the enterprise cloud application space. The question is, where does that leave Microsoft’s huge hardware range, and its recent Nokia purchase?

We need to prioritize innovation that is centered on our core value of empowering users and organizations to "do more."

‘Do more’ is Microsoft’s motto, according to Ballmer, and Nadella now too. But again, do more of what? Microsoft has huge resources and market reach – it will be interesting what it decides to do with them.

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