At an event in San Francisco, Microsoft’s new CEO Satya Nadella elaborated on what the company’s cloud and mobile-first strategy means, along with the introduction of Office for iPad as perhaps a prime example.
This is part of Nadella’s vision of providing applications to all users on different devices. This is a bit different from Microsoft’s “Windows-first” ideology of the past, yet something that Microsoft needs to do to remain relevant especially when its products are often now competing with web applications that work in all browsers.
In addition to Office for iPad, Microsoft offers some other iPad-optimized productivity applications including OneNote, Dynamics CRM, Dynamics AX, Bing, Lync, Outlook Web Access, OneDrive, OneDrive for Business, Yammer and Skype.
Nadella says the tools and products Microsoft is creating will help IT professionals deal with situations where employees want to bring their own devices and even Software-as-a-Service applications into the enterprise while still protecting corporate assets.
To achieve this, Microsoft launched Enterprise Mobility Suite (EMS) which includes Windows Intune, Azure Active Directory Premium and Azure Rights Management Services, to give IT the tools they need to help protect corporate assets while also allowing people to use the devices and software they prefer. Azure Active Directory Premium, for instance, provides single sign-on, cloud-based identity and access management to more than 1,000 SaaS applications.
Additions to Windows Intune include support for the Samsung KNOX platform, Remote to My PC capability for Android and iOS devices, and support for the next update to Windows Phone.
Administrators can add applications from a single control panel, and control employee access to applications and documents – removing access entirely when they leave the company. There are also additional security features such as two-factor authentication when adding devices.
Nadella talked about the DocuSign app, which allows people to quickly add their signature to documents or for authentication, as an example of an application that is using rich developer APIs that allow developers to work with Microsoft Office 365 and other products.
Nadella noted in a blog post that cloud was created to enable mobile. Although this is probably not entirely accurate, he is right that cloud services have enabled mobile devices to be able to access files and applications remotely, without having to store and install them locally.
And just as the cloud and mobile devices have untethered many of us from our desks, being bound to one device has remained a hurdle. Providing applications to every user across different devices and platforms, and developing the fabric that connects devices will become increasingly important.
Nadella envisions a “world of ubiquitous computing and ambient intelligence” approaching in the next few years. This world will be defined by new form factors beyond the computer or phone, and pretty much everything we do will be digitized. There’s a great opportunity to use these devices and this data to improve what we can do.
And that might mean some changes and concessions at Microsoft.