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Foley: The New Microsoft Is Unpredictable

Renowned journalist and Microsoft watcher Mary Jo Foley says the "new" Microsoft has become much more unpredictable, and highlights the current state of the app bridges of Microsoft's Universal App Platform.

Renowned journalist and Microsoft watcher Mary Jo Foley says the "new" Microsoft has become much more unpredictable.

"When Satya Nadella took over, like many insiders I thought it would be business as usual," she says. "It has been anything but."

Speaking at the keynote address on at Visual Studio Live! in New York last week, she described her observations in an informal question and answer session with conference co-chair Andrew Brust.

Microsoft is no longer as Windows-centric as it has been in the past. Nadella has changed the mission statement and focus to these three buckets, says Foley:

  • Office and Microsoft Dynamics
  • Azure and SQL Server
  • Hardware, including Xbox, Surface and phones

What that means for the company is they're focusing their efforts on where they think they'll be making the most money in the future, says Foley. "Windows sales to OEM partners are tapering off, so they're focusing on cloud and productivity and hoping that Windows comes along for the ride," says Foley.

Overall though, she feels Microsoft is doing well and maintaining its momentum. Brust and Foley then touched on specific aspects of the company and its product portfolio. The best thing Foley sees in the Azure group is they are "emphasizing the global nature of Azure by opening data centers all over," she says. "There's a global scalability with that asset."

Speaking to the crowd of Microsoft developers, Brust asked Foley if she thought there was any traction to the universal platform. "Microsoft says there have been more Windows 10 downloads than with any previous version," she says. Now the apps and the manner in which they are distributed and updated have to catch up to support the Universal App Platform.

Brust and Foley then discussed the state of the app bridges Microsoft is working on to port apps over to the Windows store. Ultimately, there will be four bridges to bring apps from other platforms over to the Universal App Platform:

  • Project Islandwood for iOS developers and apps
  • Project Centennial for classic Windows apps
  • Project Westminster for Web apps
  • Project Astoria for Android apps

There will be a staggered rollout of these bridges. "Of these bridges," says Foley, "the Web app bridge is the only one of the four available. The iOS one is coming along, the Android bridge is in private preview, and the Win32 bridge is the farthest back."

When Brust asked if developers should make an investment in the universal platform, Foley responded with a relatively eager yes. "There have been 100 million downloads of Windows 10 so far. That certainly didn't happen with Windows 8," she says. "The future is in universal Windows apps. If they want to be on the Windows 10 train, they should be on the universal platform."

Microsoft is now a platform company, Foley concludes. "You tend to think of them as a Windows company, but not anymore," she says. "They're a platform company."

Foley and Brust will reprise their conversation about the evolving state of Microsoft at Live! 360 in November. Live! 360 will take place from November 16-20 at the Lowe's Royal Pacific Resort in Orlando, FL, and combines five conferences, including Visual Studio Live!, SharePoint Live!, SQL Server Live!, Modern Apps Live! and TechMentor.

About the Author

Lafe Low has been a technology editor and writer for more than 25 years. Most recently, he was the editor in chief of TechNet magazine. He has also held various editorial positions with Redmond magazine, CIO magazine and InfoWorld. He also launched his own magazine entitled Explore New England, and has published four editions of his guidebook The Best in Tent Camping: New England.

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