Microsoft has appointed current server and tools head Satya Nadella as its CEO, succeeding Steve Ballmer. The widely-rumoured appointment reaffirms a key point about Microsoft that is often neglected: its enterprise business is more important to its future than what happens with Bing or Surface or Windows Phone.
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We don't usually report on executive changes here at Lifehacker, but Microsoft is an unusual case. Partly that's down to consistency: Microsoft has had just three CEOs in its entire history. (Apple has had five in a similar period.)
CEO Steve Ballmer, who succeeded company founder Bill Gates in the CEO role, announced his plans to stand down in in August last year. Ballmer remains on Microsoft's board, as does Gates, although Gates is stepping down from his role as chairman and will act as a "technology advisor".
As we've noted before, while some of Microsoft's recent consumer-oriented projects have failed to gain the expected traction, its server and tools division — which encompasses Windows Server, Azure, SQL Server and its development tools — is both growing and profitable. In an era where companies are increasingly reliant on cloud-based services and have to support a divergent range of consumer devices, that isn't a terrible position to be in.
Nadella's approach to the company's server and cloud tools has always been to treat them as complementary, not as an old technology that will inevitably be replaced with a new one. "We firmly believe in the hybrid computing point of view; even though we are expanding with Windows Azure globally, we need to complement that with our existing server infrastructure products," he told Lifehacker in an exclusive interview last year
That approach also ties in with the 2013 reorganisation of Microsoft, which was designed to promote unified services, not competing divisions.