This is all marketing speak, of course. But when Satya Nadella says that what’s important for Microsoft, what Microsoft should do is be there for people across all platforms, what sticks in my mind is not that they’re not on all platforms, but that both of the two other people who’ve ever sat in his chair have been adamant that they would own all those platforms. It used to be that Mac support was a vestige of history and a mistake that would not be allowed again. Now, they’re prioritizing other platforms over their own, and supporting more other platforms than their own. (Which doesn’t mean that iPad Office is feature-complete or everything it should be at this point in time.)
Ballmer and Gates think losing the platform war, no longer being the largest and the no-one-ever-got-fired-for choice means the end of the Microsoft as we know it, and they may be right. But it’s the also the beginning of the only Microsoft that can stop the bleeding and thrive. The time to make a choice either way is long gone. Now it’s a matter of survival and you can’t yearn yourself to the future. Nadella, maybe free of having to frame it as his life’s work being diminished, chose acceptance. He’s moving on and it’s going to serve them well.