Enterprise Mobility: Windows Phone, Kinect, Cloud, Windows 8 Prep: Microsoft's 2011
Ballmer at CES
In January, Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer used his keynote speech at the Consumer Electronics Show to show off the Xbox 360's hands-free Kinect controller and Windows Phone devices, and announce that the next version of Windows would support ARM chip architecture-allowing the operating system to appear on tablets.
In 2011, Microsoft chose to embrace the "all-in" cloud strategy touted by CEO Steve Ballmer. For businesses, that meant the launch of efforts like Office 365, which combines Microsoft Office, SharePoint Online, Exchange Online and Lync Online into a common cloud platform costing between $2 and $27 per user per month. For consumers, that meant cloud-based improvements to a variety of products, whether SkyDrive, Bing or the Xbox 360's new-and-improved dashboard. Even as it moved forward with its cloud strategy, Microsoft also did more to embrace mobility. That meant a number of new strategic partnerships for its Windows Phone smartphone platform, including a wide-ranging one with Nokia. Throughout the year, Microsoft also made very clear that the upcoming Windows 8 will appear on mobile devices, such as tablets, in addition to PCs; the operating system's user interface will feature a tile-centric start screen, optimized for touch. An emphasis on cloud and mobility places Microsoft on an ever-tighter collision course with some of its biggest rivals, including Google and Apple. But Microsoft also has precious little choice. While the company continued to draw the bulk of its revenue from "traditional" software (including Windows and Office) throughout 2011, the tech industry's tilt toward the cloud will inevitably disrupt that model. Microsoft's year was about positioning to ride through that transition intact. For a related article click here.