Satya Nadella discusses Microsoft’s hardware efforts, says “category creation is a new part of what we have to do”

Laurent Giret

Since the publication of Satya Nadella’s new book ‘Hit Refresh’, the Microsoft CEO has appeared in a lot of interviews, and so far he didn’t shy away from tough questions. Earlier today, the CEO was interviewed by GeekWire Editor Todd Bishop at the 2017 GeekWire Summit, and Nadella couldn’t avoid addressing the elephant in the room, more precisely how Microsoft can stay relevant in the mobile market without a mobile platform of its own.

Interestingly, Nadella explained that he takes inspiration from Microsoft’s own history. “The question really is for us, how do we meet the reality of today and then invent our own future? And the way I think of that is first let’s make sure our software and applications are used on iOS and Android,” he explained, highlighting that Office was initially released on the Mac before it launched on Windows. When asked if Microsoft has finally given up on smartphone hardware, Nadella explained that yes, Microsoft won’t release new Windows 10 Mobile hardware, with the mobile OS now being exclusively business-focused:

We absolutely do not have the share to have our smartphone hardware, that’s a real consumer choice. That’s the reality of it. (…)The reality is that we cannot compete as a third ecosystem with no share position and attract developers. The thing we’re doing is to make sure that the software is available so that we can service the enterpise customers who really don’t care about a lot of the things a consumer will care about.

The discussion later moved to Surface hardware, and Nadella confirmed that “we do have a lot of exciting things that are happening in Surface.” This pushed GeekWire’s Todd Bishop to ask Nadella if the company was interested in exploring new form factors, and the CEO laughingly answered that “I’m definitely not going to talk to you about it before I have the device.”

Of course, it’s probably too early for Microsoft to reveal its full mobile plans, but Nadella emphasized that Microsoft has built the capability to build new devices over the last seven years. “The fact that we now have that capability to do end to end, as I like to say from silicon to cloud, is what now we got to use to innovate new categories. And clearly, category creation is going to be a new part of what we have to do,” he explained. That’s a clear confirmation that Microsoft will continue to push boundaries with its future hardware efforts.