Microsoft’s Vision


This slide is starting to appear in more and more Microsoft public presentations from our executives. It was in Steve Ballmer’s Financial Analyst Meeting slides and also used at a number of recent Microsoft internal events. I like the slide a lot as it demonstrates both where Microsoft has been and is going.

  1. We started as a PC company – on every desk and in every home and it’s fair to say that has been pretty successful
  2. About 20 years ago we started to get in to enterprise computing with server software and despite what people said, we’ve been pretty successful there too
  3. About 13 years ago we started to get in to the Internet space and our late entry to that game is well documented. The Internet tidal wave memo was the sea change the company needed. Obviously there are some areas we hope to be more successful in such as search and advertising and there are some significant competitors with great products such as Google. Like many though, I think it’s early days on the Internet and there are some big changes ahead for Microsoft with the work Ray Ozzie and many others are doing. 
  4. At a similar time, we started to invest in devices beyond the PC – be that set top boxes, gaming devices, mobile devices and more recently music players. We’ve had some success here but like the Internet, it’s early days in a long game ahead.


Back to the slide though. The reasons I like the slide a lot are these


  • It’s a simple message – internally and externally. I mean I can even remember this one off the top of my head 🙂
  • It’s clear, free from cheesy clipart, bullets, animations and other such distractions.
  • It gives hooks to tell the story of Microsoft. People like stories in presentations and I think the Microsoft story is fascinating and seems to intrigue people.
  • It helps demonstrate that these eras are not defined in a few years. They often take 10, 15 or more years to shake out and for our investments to succeed (or fail). Microsoft is nothing if not tenacious.
  • It includes the words magic – I think it was Bill Gates who coined “the magic of software” phrase and it’s something we need to get back to our roots on. Right now I feel Apple does magic better than us at times – though Photosynth, WW Telescope and DeepZoom are pure magic to me….and Scoble and we need to make more people aware of these amazing innovations.
  • It includes “power of the Internet” which will be much more fun to talk about at the end of October. Sorry, can’t tell you more there. Yet.


In summary, I think you can expect to see this slide a lot at Microsoft events over the coming weeks and months. As a vision slide I think it’s as good as I have seen in my 10+ years at Microsoft. I hope people take the time to present it well and I hope they take the time to tell the stories it holds and actually tell their own stories. You can rest assured I will 🙂

Comments (5)
  1. Kevin Daly says:

    The magic of software is a key concept in my opinion, and in quite a literal sense: in what software can do it really comes very close to the things our ancestors dreamed of.

    It’s unfortunate that magic is automatically associated with mystification, which has negative connotations for IT.

    But to me software really is the human imagination unleashed, and as far as I’m concerned that’s magic. It’s also a Hell of a lot of fun.

  2. says:

    There certainly are a lot of Microsoft products and technologies that have the magic. However, the seamlessness is definitely something I’d like to see done better.

    For instance, under the devices heading there, they have a Zune, a WM phone, and an XBox. All are fairly cool on their own, but they don’t exactly work together as well as they could. Sure, you can shuffle content around between the three, but not in a way that I’d call seamless.

  3. stevecla01 says:

    kettch – yep, I’m with you on that one. It’s tough to get so many product groups to see where the magic between their products could be and even more so when products release at different times and in different places. however, that just the facts – not an excuse. Under Ray Ozzie’s tutelage I think we can and will do better. his recent strategy memo talks about a social mesh and that’s a good way to think about where the products you mention can work together in a much better way

  4. says:

    As a consumer I don’t find myself getting jazzed about this vision. Frankly there is very small percentage of people who would own such multitude of gadgets and being desperate about having "seamless" experience on all of them. If I can’t read blogs in my microwave, I care less. Actually this kind of vision statements shows how out of touch (and "unvisionary") MS execs are. PC industry has been history. Computers aren’t important anymore – rather they are just tool to create and consume *information*. The *information* is the kind. It will matter in future more than ever which company has every single bit of information every published in any form. An ability to collect all these information and make it accessible – that’s what this century is about (as opposed to things like an ability in Xbox or Smartphone to type word documents). Google gets this. And IMHO very naturally. When your excecs dvelve on things like "business value" of scanning all of the books in the world and aren’t really convinienced, com back here and re-read this comments.

  5. stevecla01 says:

    I could offer you a long explanation of why business value is important to Microsoft and not Google but lets not dwell on that for now….

    I’m interested in this – if *you* were Steve Ballmer, what would you state as the company vision? Remember you have to capture ALL the audiences Microsoft sells to, not just people who read blogs and have iPhones 🙂 Seriously, I’d love to know.

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