by Lane Shelton
Microsoft recently held their annual Worldwide Partner Conference in Washington, DC. I’ve been going to these for years, and this one was actually one of the best. The energy was high but not manic; the mood was serious but not stifling. Microsoft had the courage to admit that the computing world has changed, and their former 95% market share has turned into a 14% share of all the devices in the world—a humbling shift but I thought they handled it well. They addressed a new landscape and new challenges, with none of the “remember when” nostalgia.
After dealing with Microsoft for almost 20 years, I expect this is when they’re at their best—when they have a clear vision that is based on technology and engineering. And Satya Nadella, the new CEO, looks to be the right person for the job. I believe he epitomizes a “born in the cloud Bill Gates.” I got my measure of Mr. Nadella from an unscripted moment during his keynote. He and a colleague were demonstrating new features of their technology stack, and Mr. Nadella made a quip about his early days at Microsoft when he first encountered the field of application development. He said, “And then I fell in love with app dev, because who wouldn’t?” He was completely genuine, and only an engineer could look at the world and believe that if any one of us encountered application development we’d be hooked for life!
So is Microsoft heading for smooth sailing or rough seas? Time will tell. Whatever happens next, Microsoft has a true engineer at the helm—and that’s what they need as they chart their course into a mobile first, cloud first world. Mr. Nadella’s message couldn’t be clearer: Use technology to create work and life experiences that help people do more and be more. It was refreshing to hear a company that so often touted their experience, expertise, and knowledge, really think about my experience for a change.
And so we segue to my Happy Place. Anyone who knows me knows that I’m a harsh, but fair, critic of Microsoft. I also won’t hesitate to give credit where credit is due. A few months ago I blogged on the “Device Happy Place, the phenomenon that happens when an end-user encounters their ultimate device setup. It’s different for everyone, and only you will know when you truly find it. I hadn’t found mine, and not for lack of trying. My office is a cluttered graveyard of notebooks, ultrabooks, slates, phablets. It’s so bad that I often use an iPad mini as a mousepad. I’ve even included a photo to prove it.
But voila, the Surface Pro 3. I finally found my own little slice of device euphoria, my happy place. And this isn’t just another manic eureka moment from a device junkie. Otherwise I would have blogged about it, and later looked silly when I had my next eureka soon afterwards. Instead, I’ve spent the past month doing my normal crazy work and travel mayhem using the new device. It was that fast—I opened the box, IT set it up, and in my very first session, I knew—this was it. I could bore you with the tactical why’s—the features, design, etc., everything you can read on our website. But it wasn’t the features, or anything else that I could point to—it was the experience.
The Surface Pro 3 fit my style and matched my pace out of the box: I worked faster, I worked better, it even gave me a little swagger in my step—because I’m that much of a geek. And since we are being honest, just like that, all my other devices became mousepads. And therein lies the simplicity and promise of the new Microsoft vision—when you focus on the experience, and create the right experience, you win. Period.
Take a peek for yourself, at all the Surface Pro 3 has to offer, and may you find your device happy place real soon!