2016 was in many ways a watershed year for Microsoft, with the software giant taking decisive steps away from its traditional roots and embracing a more open future in the cloud.
Of course, for the traditional Microsoft enthusiast such as myself, 2016 was also a bit unsettling due to its hard but often necessary strategies on the client, especially with Windows 10 and mobile. But it’s important to look past our own personal desires and view Microsoft in a broader light, I think.
But I still focus primarily on personal technology and thus my view of Microsoft’s 2016 will be somewhat skewed as a result.
So what was Microsoft’s biggest moment of 2016? Inarguably, it was the $26.2 billion acquisition of LinkedIn. And while it is still far too early to judge that acquisition a success, we can all at least agree that LinkedIn’s customer base and customer data ties neatly into Microsoft’s broader cloud-based ambitions. LinkedIn came at a heavy price, yes, but the deal makes sense.
Microsoft’s word—or meme—of the year was “transformation.” Company executives recited this term so much in 2016 that it turned into a drinking game, but it makes sense: Here is Microsoft, transforming itself for the new marketplaces of the 21st century, and in doing so, it is helping and teaching its customers how to make the same steps forward. This is leadership by example.
And since we’re on the topic, I’ll just point out that some cloud-based technologies that I’m not personally very interested in likewise represent big steps towards Microsoft’s future. I’m talking about the machine learning, artificial intelligence, and bots and cognitive systems that will form the basis for a new Microsoft stack. Yes, it’s plumbing. But these are areas where Microsoft can lead and see great success, and 2016 was the coming out party...