Recognizing that personal productivity applications, the operating systems they run on, and the tools needed to secure them are all tightly linked, Microsoft today announced it is combining Office 365, Windows 10 and its security technologies into a single unified Microsoft 365 offering.
Speaking at a Microsoft Inspire 2017 conference, Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella told the company’s industry partners that Microsoft 365 represents a “fundamental departure” in terms of how Microsoft will bring its products and services to market. Nadella says changes to the way software is consumed and secured in modern workplaces coupled with a desire to make broader use of artificial intelligence (AI) applications is driving this change in strategy.
“You have to face up to the fact there is now a bigger surface area for security,” says Nadella.
There will be two core flavors of Microsoft 365, one aimed at the enterprise while a business edition will be targeted at small- to medium-sized business (SMB) customers at a price point of $20 per user per month. Available in a public preview mode as of August, Nadella also noted that this approach will make it much easier for Microsoft to imbue AI capabilities across applications and the underlying operating system to provide a better end-user experience, in addition to improving overall security.
As part of that effort, Nadella also noted that Microsoft has crafted a common AI and customization framework across Microsoft Office 365, Microsoft Dynamics business application and the LinkedIn social media network. In fact, Nadella says, there is “no such thing as a canonical business application.” Each use case of an application varies widely by company and vertical industry, says Nadella.
Of course, this new approach also essentially bundles applications and operating system technologies in a way that over the years has been at the heart of many Department of Justice lawsuits. Microsoft apparently feels those concerns will fade given the current competitive environment, technology advances, less customer tolerance for having to integrate software on their own, and changing attitudes toward regulation in Washington. Naturally, the degree to which Microsoft rivals might cry foul remains to be seen. But it is clear that after decades of restraint, Microsoft is now willing to flex its overall market dominance, for better or worse, in a variety of new directions.