Don’t Get Me Prognosticating

When David Platt wrote his November 2013 “Don’t Get Me Started” column (Advice to the New CEO), offering straight talk advice to the then-unknown future CEO of Microsoft, Platt laid out four points of action. Briefly stated, they were:

1. Transform Microsoft into an authentic devices and services company

2. Buy your way into the mobile/tablet hardware market

3. Jump-start the developer community, specifically in the device space

4. Listen to outsiders

Well, we all know now that the new CEO is none other than Satya Nadella, who previously served as president of the Server & Tools Division at Microsoft. Just by not being Steve Ballmer, who Platt in his column described as “the ultimate PC warhorse,” Nadella has helped Microsoft begin to address item #1.

But Nadella may also be moving to address item #3, as it was reported early today that Microsoft may be in late-stage talks to purchase or invest in cross-platform, mobile tools provider Xamarin. Xamarin tools allow developers to write apps for iOS and Android, using Microsoft development tools and the C# programming language.

If Microsoft were to purchase or more closely partner with Xamarin, it would signal an important shift in strategy, potentially enabling .NET/C# developers to write iOS and Android apps directly within Visual Studio. That would make Visual Studio a true one-stop-shop for developers, and would open the door for more development targeting Microsoft’s Windows Azure cloud platform and services.

“Nadella is a back-end guy, and possibly sees Microsoft as becoming more of a back-end company without necessarily using that to drive the front end,” Platt said in an email interview, describing an Azure plug-for iOS and Android that provides notification services for the two OSes. “A true-blue Microsoft guy would make those compatible with Microsoft front ends only, so as to drive those front ends. I think Nadella sees nothing wrong with allowing the growth of iOS and Android to drive growth of Azure. I agree with that philosophy.”

At this stage, the reporting on Microsoft and Xamarin remains unverified. But even absent a deal, Microsoft and Xamarin have been dynamic partners for years. Developers today can deploy Xamarin tools, including the company’s Xamarin for Visual Studio product, which includes add-ins for enabling development of iOS and Android apps from within the Visual Studio IDE.

Check out David Platt’s advice to Microsoft here. And be sure to check out David’s latest column (The Peasants are Revolting!), warning how a poorly planned and executed software rollout can result in insurrection.

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