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Microsoft… and Hard… and a little bit Open

23 October 2015

Skimming Microsoft’s most recent annual report provides some interesting insights. Among them:

While many people are inclined to view Microsoft as a mature (and perhaps not that relevant?) company, the financial results continue to be quite impressive. In rounded billions, Microsoft has grown from total revenue of $70 billion to $94 billion over the last 5 years. The most recent year over year growth is 8% – not a rocket ship, especially for a tech company. But at this scale, that equates to a revenue increase of over $6.7 billion – an amount that dwarfs the total revenue of all but a small number of tech companies.

A second point is that the “soft” part of the name continues to be joined by “hard” as in hardware. Of the current $94 billion, $17.7 billion is in the “Devices and Consumer Hardware” category. Not a dominant segment on Microsoft’s scale, but viewed by itself, $17.7 billion would make a pretty respectable hardware company!  And it’s a long way from the days when the occasional bit of hardware like the Microsoft mouse was all that came from Microsoft’s corner of Redmond.

On a different dimension, browsing the annual report doesn’t uncover any declaration that MS is going become an open source company and abandon the proprietary model.  No surprise there! But there is some recognition of the undeniable role of open source in today’s software ecosystem. The Shareholder’s Letter from CEO Satya Nadella includes this comment:

“We made tremendous progress in our developer engagement this past year by delivering new innovative services to developers across all device platforms and also opening our technology to create more participation from open source communities. “

And also this one:

“I am excited about the growth opportunities ahead. We’ve broadened our addressable market by building and acquiring technologies in key growth categories like security, data and analytics, while also delivering greater integration and support for Linux and open source technologies such as Docker containers and Hadoop. “

Other parts of the report correctly name open source products as competition for a range of MS offerings, so of course we’re looking at a mix of cooperating and competing.  But that’s a step in the right direction.

One Comment leave one →
  1. 29 October 2015 12:25 am

    I would agree with this – a step in the right direction. A mix of competitive and collaborating open source alternatives. Their open work on Docker (lots of commits), Azure, and .Net are interesting, but aren’t at all signs of something company-wide. They aren’t going to open source Office, Sharepoint, or Windows anytime soon. Its select back end stuff and where they are trying to gain sticky users (use one product, stick for another) or keep Windows shops around by extending their reach to both win and linux. I had lunch with MS’s OSS team and heard good intentions with an eager challenge to figure out how they collaborate with open source and education. Healthy steps fwd, a lot to learn.

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