Steve Ballmer has unveiled plans to reinvent Microsoft with a big push to develop hardware from phones to set top boxes, as it attempts to remain relevant in the era of IT consumerisation.
In a memo to staff, the bullish CEO stated: “The bedrock of our new strategy is innovation in deep, rich, high-value experiences and activities.
"It’s the starting point for differentiated devices integrated with services. Our family will include phones, tablets, PCs, 2-in-1s, TV-attached devices and other devices to be imagined and developed.”
Addressing the success of Apple in creating a homogenous hardware and cloud environment with desirable devices, Ballmer said: “No technology company has as yet delivered a definitive family of devices useful all day for work and for play, connected with every bit of a person’s information available through one cloud.”
The company has repositioned Bing from internet search into a knowledge repository. He said: “Our machine learning infrastructure will understand people’s needs and what is available in the world and will provide information and assistance. “
Expanding beyond the Xbox and the Surface tablet, Ballmer plans to grow consumer hardware and enterprise services. “We will design, create and deliver through us and through third parties a complete family of Windows-powered devices,” Ballmer explained in the memo.
Part of this push with devices in the consumer sector will also occur in the enterprise market.
In particular, Ballmer said the company would focus on its Dynamics enterprise suite and he aims to facilitate adoption of devices and end-user services in the enterprise market.
He said: “Our family of devices must allow people to be more productive, and for them to easily use our devices for work.”
Commenting on the news, Gartner fellow David Cearley said: "The enterprise remains a critical target, which is why Ballmer has focused on Dynamics.
"But in terms of devices and services, Ballmer is emphasising integrated devices. Microsoft will create a wide range of OS capacities that it can deliver itself and through hardware partners.”
He said the Microsoft operating system will be aspect of these new devices."Instead of just a generic Windows PC we will see fully integrated software and services built on top of the hardware."