Satya Nadella was the right choice for Microsoft CEO

It’s one year since Microsoft appointed Satya Nadella as its third CEO. He was clearly the right person for the job.

Things are not perfect at Microsoft, but Nadella has done a great job of reinventing the company and making it relevant again.

Some of his achievements:

  • Made Microsoft a player in the booming iOS app market with first class versions of key Office apps.
  • The Office apps were in the pipeline, but stalled, when Nadella took over. However, it was under his leadership Microsoft acquired Accompli then raced to get a terrific version of Outlook for iOS out to market.
  • For a long time Microsoft was openly hostile to Apple. Former CEO Steve Ballmer spoke contemptuously of iPhones and iPads. Nadella stopped the cold war, even choosing to use Apple kit to display Microsoft products to audiences. He has a clear understanding of symbolism.
  • Likewise Microsoft has built bridges to the Android world. There are Android apps and new Microsoft tools for building apps on Windows, Apple or Android devices.
  • Microsoft is investing in Cyanogen to build a new, non-Google, fork of Android.
  • There have been a swag of new products including Sway and Delve. Also the Skype translator.
  • Revitalised Windows which badly lost direction and momentum under Ballmer with Windows 8. Windows 10 looks to change that. Apart from anything else, it’s one OS, one code base, that will run on any device from tiny to huge.
  •  Made Windows free for devices with screens smaller than nine inches. That’s going to change the dynamics of the market for low-end tablets and small computers.

Underlying this is a new confidence in Microsoft from investors. The company is worth 20 percent more today than when Steve Ballmer announced his departure.

It’s not all rosy. Microsoft has a problem with smartphones, the otherwise excellent Windows Phone OS has failed to get much traction in the market. At the moment, the Nokia acquisition looks more like a millstone around the company’s neck than an asset. Nadella will need to conjure something magical to cure that problem.