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Five Takeaways From Satya Nadella's Future of Microsoft Memo

What does it all mean?

Asa Mathat

There was a lot to digest in Satya Nadella’s opus on the future of Microsoft.

Sure, there were a lot of broad statements and platitudes. But reading between the lines of the memo divulges a great deal about where he plans to take the company he has led since February.

Here are five key takeaways.

1. More organizational changes are coming.

Nadella notes this high up in the memo, promising he “will share more on the engineering and organization changes we believe are needed” this month, after the company’s earnings report. There’s not a lot of detail on what changes he has in mind, but it’s clear that he isn’t going to just take Steve Ballmer’s “One Microsoft” set-up as is.

2. Expect more from Cortana, Microsoft’s answer to Siri.

“In the future, it will be even more intelligent as a personal assistant who takes notes, books meetings and understands if my question about the weather is to determine my clothes for the day or is intended to start a complex task like booking a family vacation,” Nadella writes. This is the next battleground in computing, with Google Now, Siri and Cortana all shaping up to move from limited, niche roles to a more central way to make sense of options too numerous to live in a tray of apps.

Nadella also makes reference to a product called Delve, a machine learning tool for businesses.

3. Employees should either get on board or get off the ship.

“Nothing is off the table in how we think about shifting our culture to deliver on this core strategy,” Nadella wrote, promising the future will include acquisitions and new partnerships, job changes and outside hires. “Tired traditions will be questioned,” he said. “Our priorities will be adjusted … And if you want to thrive at Microsoft and make a world impact, you and your team must add numerous more changes to this list that you will be enthusiastic about driving.”

4. Microsoft isn’t giving up on the consumer business. (We’re hanging on to Xbox.)

“As a large company, I think it’s critical to define the core, but it’s important to make smart choices on other businesses in which we can have fundamental impact and success.” Gaming is one of those places where Nadella says it pays to invest. “The single biggest digital life category, measured in both time and money spent, in a mobile-first world is gaming,” he said, promising to keep the unit that some analysts have been suggesting he jettison.

5. Privacy as a selling point.

Microsoft has been staking out this turf for awhile now. Born from its heritage as a heavily scrutinized company from its Department of Justice days, Microsoft has long had an eye toward the privacy implications of its products. In its competition with Google, where it needs every advantage it can muster, privacy can be one of those.

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