Microsoft Shares Rise Under New CEO Satya Nadella
Microsoft is a technology company that develops, manufactures, licenses, supports and sells a wide range of software products. Its best known offerings include Windows and the Office suite of productivity applications. The company also offers a variety of hardware devices and cloud services.
Founded in 1975 by Harvard dropouts Bill Gates and Paul Allen, Microsoft quickly became the biggest computer software seller in the world. Its flagship Windows operating system and office software essentially defined desktop computing as we know it, and its products remain the dominant force in their markets.
In addition to its software products, Microsoft also manufactures a line of tablet computers that are sold separately from its Windows operating systems, and it has a growing presence in the cloud computing business. Its Azure platform has grown into a competitive alternative to Amazon Web Services, which has dominated that market in recent years.
The company is also making a bigger push into artificial intelligence, with a series of recent acquisitions and partnerships, including its acquisition of the DeepMind firm in 2014. Under Nadella, Microsoft has also refocused on what it calls “customer obsession.” Instead of going by sales, which can be a lagging indicator in fast-moving markets, the company has started to focus on user data and feedback.
While some of these initiatives have failed, others have proved successful. Microsoft’s Xbox console system, for example, was able to erode the dominant market share of Sony’s PlayStation and Nintendo’s Wii by offering more features at lower prices. Its Azure cloud platform has gained a significant share of the public computing infrastructure business and is one of the fastest-growing platforms in the industry.
Its Surface line of tablets is also a successful product, and its Bing search engine has gained a larger share of the search business by offering more contextual results and advanced machine learning capabilities. The company has also made a large investment in cloud storage, and its online services now compete with the likes of Google, Dropbox and Amazon Web Services.
Investors are optimistic about the prospects of Microsoft’s future under its new leadership. Its revenue growth has been solid, and its cash flow has improved significantly in recent quarters. In addition, the company has made progress in its restructuring efforts. Its shares have climbed more than 15 percent this year. Investors also are encouraged by the company’s strong balance sheet and healthy free-cash-flow ratio.