Satya Nadella's July 10 Missive: Cliffs Notes and Commentary

Satya Nadella's July 10 Missive: Cliffs Notes and Commentary

When faced with reading an enormously thick literary piece in high school, my friends and I relied heavily on Cliffs Notes. At the basic level, Cliffs Notes is a book about a book, but in a highly condensed format. Yes, it was cheating, but when tasked with completing a forgotten assignment the night before, it was crucial. I probably spent more time driving between different bookstores to locate the specific edition I needed than actually reading it once I found it. Incidentally, it's good to see Cliffs Notes are still available in both paperback and Kindle editions now.

In a way, I think Cliffs Notes helped mold my personality. I prefer succinct, to-the-point communications. I guess that's why I really like Twitter. If you can't say it in 180 characters, I don't want to hear it. Nah, it's not really that bad (I don't think), but if I receive an email that I have to page down more than once to read its entirety, my response will most likely be delayed because I'll shove it into my "Respond Later" folder.

Microsoft today, posted the latest email from CEO, Satya Nadella, on the web. If you remember, Satya's first email to employees after accepting the role of Microsoft's new CEO was public, too. Penned to "All Employees," today's email makes me feel a bit sheepish to read, almost like I'm reading something not intended for me. I guess, if I'm ever a CEO again, I can start posting all my more important emails directly to the web, too. (Filed under "things CEOs do").

Today's email is quite a bit longer than Satya's first one. The first email was about "who I am" and "why I'm here" and could be read in a matter of minutes. Today's posted email is almost 3,200 words and requires no less than 15 page downs.

There's some important content in Satya's email, and seems to hit just about every area of concern that has been raised since he started as the head of the Microsoft business. You can sit and read through all 3,200 words (I suggest you do sometime), but for now, I'm providing my own Cliffs Notes version to make it easier to consume.

Bold Ambition & Our Core

  • Microsoft must rediscover its soul.
  • Microsoft's job ahead is bolder and more ambitious than anything the company has ever done.
  • July will be spent discussing Microsoft's core focus going forward. (Is something new coming?)
  • Quarterly earnings results will be announced on July 22.
  • Satya and the Leadership Team will be announcing engineering and organizational (read: layoffs and yet another reorg) changes.

Our Worldview

  • Mobile-first and Cloud-first world. (Does this ever get old?)
  • Mobile-first/Cloud-first relates to millions of sensors, screens, and devices everywhere from living rooms to conference rooms. (read: IoT)
  • Intent on creating natural human-computing interfaces to serve all areas of life and all devices. From farmers in the field to professional power users.
  • Microsoft needs to become a technology enabler for all people and all industries. And, it needs to strike the right balance between security, privacy, and experience.

Our Core

  • Once described as a "devices and services" company, Microsoft needs to move past that and become a "productivity and platform" company. (Last vestiges of Steve Ballmer just booted out the door. Satya is truly making Microsoft his own.)
  • Whether it's expressing ideas, keeping an entire city running, helping to develop vaccines, or enabling the disadvantaged, Microsoft is a company that helps people get stuff done.
  • Microsoft has a unique ability to "harmonize" digital work and the digital life.
  • Microsoft needs to reinvent productivity to allow people to manage the growing sea of devices and data.
  • Microsoft will build tools to allow technology to be more useful to people, moving from "automated business processes" to "intelligent business processes."
  • The "dual user" defined = people who use the same technology for work or school but also in personal situations.
  • Microsoft must address the "dual user," providing every aspect of the digital experience.
  • Cloud OS, device OS, and FIRST-party hardware will provide for this vision. (No mention of Windows Server)
  • Microsoft intends to enable developers and partners to thrive in the new world.
  • Digital Work and Life Experiences:
    • Ambient intelligence with Delve and Cortana is the magic for digital work and life.
    • Power Q&A, based on Microsoft BI, will provide natural language results.
    • Skype translator will conquer language barriers.
    • Microsoft continuing its intent to supply apps for all ecosystems (not just Microsoft) to provide for everyone, everywhere and in friction-free ways.
    • Office 365 is part of the transformation, available on all major platforms.
    • Businesses will see the transformation with Skype, OneDrive, OneNote, Outlook, Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Bing and Dynamics.
  • Cloud OS:
    • Cloud OS is the combination of Azure and Windows Server.
    • Mobile is a key differentiator. Supplied through the Enterprise Mobility Suite to manage and secure major mobile platforms (iOS, Windows, Android).
    • Innovation to steadily continue for SaaS applications, identity and directory services, rich data storage and analytics services, machine learning services, media services, web and mobile backend services, developer productivity services.
    • Microsoft will continue its push to grow its datacenter footprint globally.
  • Device OS and Hardware:
    • Determine to set the bar with Windows device OS and FIRST-party hardware.
    • Windows will be delivered to run and provide a consistent, secure, and manageable experience across all devices including phones, tablets, laptops, TVs, and PPI boards.
    • Universal Windows Applications will enable the developer community to participate and to help evolve and expand the Windows reach.
    • Microsoft is dedicated to FIRST-party devices, like the Surface Pro 3.
    • Windows Phone is moving forward. (Satya seems intent on continuing investment here – though he uses the word "responsibly" with "moving forward." That seems to be the big nugget.)
    • Be prepared. Microsoft will invent new categories of hardware.
    • Microsoft is invested to ensure the Xbox thrives in innovation and business value. (no backing down here, and definitely not selling off the business)


  • The culture of Microsoft must change to match its bold ambitions.
  • The culture will change through mergers and acquisitions, organizational changes, evolving job responsibilities, new partnerships.
  • Old ways will be eliminated.
  • Nothing is off the table.
  • Priorities will be adjusted.
  • Expect new skillset requirements, new ideas, and new employees to better fit the new organization.
  • Microsoft should obsess over customers. Each employee is required to put the customer first. Satya specifically calls engineering, and sales and marketing groups. (However – he does NOT mention support or community).
  • Employees will be shifted to areas where they can provide the best value for the company and the customer, along with being accountable for success and failure.
  • Microsoft will flatten its hierarchy to become a leaner business.
  • Throughout July, the Senior Leadership Team will be sharing the vision for the new reorganization.


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