5 Reasons Microsoft Customers Should Give Thanks

As the U.S. pauses to celebrate Thanksgiving on Thursday, Nov. 27, we've prepared a healthy serving of specialized content for the holiday. Today's edition: Five reasons Microsoft customers should give thanks this holiday season.

5. The CEO Change: Under former Steve Ballmer, Microsoft was mainly a product marketing company. You need Windows 8 (you mostly didn't). You need Zune (you didn't). You need to ignore Apple, Google and Linux in the enterprise (you didn't). Under Ballmer's replacement, current CEO Satya Nadella is turning Microsoft into an engineering company -- focused on mobile and cloud developments that actually make sense (you DO need that). 

4. The Open Mind: Nadella is open sourcing .Net, and a growing list of open source projects within Microsoft are gaining momentum. Sure, many of the open source efforts were under way during Ballmer's tenure. But things seem to be accelerating -- rapidly -- under Nadella.

3. Windows Takes Back Seat: When it comes to mobile and cloud computing, Microsoft ignored the obvious for quite some time: Linux and open source had serious momentum in the cloud, and Apple iOS and Android had critical mass in the mobile market. Under Nadella, Microsoft dropped "Windows" from the Azure cloud name -- essentially confirming that the company's cloud strategy would be Windows and Linux agnostic (though we're still waiting for full Red Hat support in Azure). Moreover, Microsoft is now giving away Office for iPad, with an Android release under development. Smart, assuming Nadella can make the finances work. 

2. Azure vs AWS: Without Microsoft's aggressive commitment to cloud computing, Amazon Web Services (AWS) could have become a runaway winner in the IaaS market. Instead, Microsoft's commitment to Azure and Office 365 has created some serious competition for AWS, Google Cloud Platform and IBM's SoftLayer buyout. The winners: Cloud customers and I.T. entrepreneurs looking to build their businesses on third-party infrastructure. 

1. Humble Pie: During an on-stage interview in October, comments from Nadella set off a furor over Women's Pay; he offering lame advice that could have set back the equal pay discussion for years to come. Instead of running from the controversy, Nadella nearly immediately issued an internal apology to all Microsoft employees as well as a public apology on twitter and elsewhere. I'm not saying the apology makes up for the equal pay problem within the IT industry. Nor am I excusing Nadella for his comment. But ironically, Nadella's initial comment and apology has driven the equal-pay discussion forward, instead of setting it back.

Bonus: He Did What? I'm on vacation. This blog was written at an undisclosed date and time before I jumped off the grid. If Nadella makes a terrible business move during my vacation please disregard all of the glowing praise from above. And yes, I know some investors are now fighting his pay package... I'll be back Dec. 1. -- but our daily updates continue in the meantime. Happy Thanksgiving.

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