One of the most iconic Microsoft videos is of former CEO Steve Ballmer in 2000 running around the stage at a Windows conference chanting, “developers, developers, developers,” showcasing just how vital this role was to Microsoft’s future. Ironically, after that, Microsoft seemed to lose its focus on developers. It went from a company that seemed like it could do no wrong to a company having trouble doing anything right.
Microsoft, under Satya Nadella, again takes developers very seriously, which was made clear in his keynote this week during Microsoft Build, and it became apparent that executing against this critical need is again a Microsoft strength.
Ramping Up Digital Transformation
Nadella opened his keynote by thanking the developers and crediting their work during the pandemic as critical to both their companies and the people that worked in them. Their work sped up digital transformation so that changes expected to take over a decade were completed in months. This placed many firms well ahead of the pre-pandemic projections.
This critical need for developers has spread outside of technology companies, and, according to Nadella, non-tech firms are hiring software engineers even more rapidly than tech companies. There is a massive eight-times jump in remote job postings for developers, resulting in widespread organizational and operational improvements. These changes will and are going to drive technological and societal shifts as every country ramps up its increasingly ubiquitous and decentralized computing power.
Nadella pointed out that the automotive market is currently hiring more software engineers than software engineers, underscoring how important developers are to Microsoft’s future.
Build for Developers
At Build, Microsoft presents more than 1,000 new services, tools, and updates for the developer community. Developers build the toolchain for them to go from idea to code to cloud very rapidly, innovating along the way. Toyota was highlighted as a firm using Fusion Teams to build enhanced vehicle delivery applications.
In some cases, developers only need to describe what needs to be done, and the tool will help them accomplish this task. Microsoft has always believed that everyone could become a developer, and they have historically been a leader in easy-to-use developer tools. Still, this year Microsoft has gone much further, embracing platforms like Linux and practices like Open Source at unprecedented levels to drive related development at the incredible rates required by today’s rapidly changing world.
Cloud data analytics was highlighted as one of the improvements providing critical data to further critical company efforts. This year also has the most comprehensive AI toolset Microsoft has ever fielded because the firm recognizes that AI is a significant component of this new Industrial Revolution.
Microsoft highlighted Azure Application Services as one of the most vital tools helping ease the transitions from cloud to the edge, a critical need for companies transitioning to the new IoT normal.
Hybrid Work And Microsoft Teams
One of the world’s most potent collaboration tools is now Microsoft Teams. This tool has grown significantly in capability; it has doubled in market share during the pandemic, according to Nadella. Hybrid work now represents the most significant shift in worker enablement, and with 145 million users, Teams is enabling a new class of cross-device collaboration applications. Both ServiceNow and Finastra were highlighted as heavy and happy Teams users.
Metaverse was also highlighted as a growth area as mixed reality grows to encompass digital twins using Microsoft Mesh and accessed with Hololens. Users will explore, interact, and work on small projects through simulation and Holoportation more effectively as these tools evolve.
Anheuser-Busch was highlighted as an aggressive user of digital twins and mixed-reality to better manage complex manufacturing processes remotely. Problems can be visualized, fixes simulated, and the result modeled so that problems with remedies only impact the simulation and not the site’s performance.
The Future of Windows 10
Over a decade ago, Windows was the center of the Microsoft Universe. That center has been replaced by Azure. Still, Windows remains essential because it is user-facing, and Microsoft is turning it into what they believe will be the best platform for its developers and end users. It is used, according to Nadella, by 1.8 billion people today, a non-trivial number.
Enhancements make it easier to develop on multiple platforms, including Linux (yes, Microsoft fully embraces that platform) from Windows safely and securely.
Microsoft’s explicit recognition of the importance of developers, not as a revenue source, but more as enablers to the future Microsoft imagines and as partners in creating that future was evident in this keynote.
Going back to Balmer’s “developers, developers, developers” event: Microsoft got that developers were essential. Still, they failed in execution. Today’s Microsoft not only gets their importance but is showing a level of understanding and support for the needs of developers that is unprecedented in current times. Given the critical need to race toward our digitally transformed future, this focus and execution will not only be critical to Microsoft’s future but our own as we accelerate to a new tomorrow.