Microsoft 2014: the 5 most interesting stories (so far)

4. Tablet wars

Microsoft's Surface Pro 3 was released to positive reviews in March 2014, improving on its year-old Surface 2 tablet. The device was billed by Microsoft as the "tablet that can replace your laptop" and touted for being both thinner and lighter than Apple's MacBook Air - a clear indicator that Microsoft is in the tablet business for good and committed to carving out a loyal customer base after experiencing relatively lackluster tablet sales in the past.

Aimed at the business market, the combination of its Windows 8.1 operating system, touch screen capabilities and option for a detachable keyboard are seen as a game changer for the industry and have made Microsoft a serious competitor in the tablet market that many had assumed would be dominated by the iPad for the foreseeable future.

The success of the Surface Pro 3 displays both their bold ambition as well as a focus on their core technologies that made the company successful. Which brings us to the memos.

5. The poet CEO and the memos

Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella hasn't achieved Steve Jobs' guru status, but he's making waves and gaining respect for his detailed emails to employees that lay out his vision for the company. Nadella, whose Facebook page shows a fondness for both cricket and poetry, has said that he wants the company to be more nimble, transparent, and customer-focused. It's clear the public release of his emails is meant to further that goal. He was unable to be reached for comment for this story.

A memo published July 10th, entitled "Bold Ambition & Our Core" hinted at organizational changes while offering an optimistic view of the company going forward in a "mobile-first, cloud-first world." He mentions the importance of the Xbox (as well as gamers) to the company's bottom line, and Microsoft's focus on helping its customers get things done.

"Stuff like painting, writing poetry and expressing ideas," writes Nadella. "And stuff like helping build a vaccine for HIV, and giving a voice to the voiceless." He also quotes passages from books that he likes, most notably from The Boys in the Boat by a former Microsoft employee, Daniel James Brown, which compares a rowers' "swing" to poetry: a synthesis of physical effort and an elusive energy that brings harmony.

In an age when company CEOs are stereotyped as out-of-touch, inaccessible, and aloof, Nadella has opened the door and invited his employees and the media to share in his vision via his corporate prose-poems and he appears to a be refreshing change at a company not formerly known for its bold vision.

If Microsoft continues to make the news at its current pace, 2014 may well be the one of the more interesting years in the company's recent history.