Microsoft is now focusing on what matters – but is that the consumer?

Another point of consideration is Windows Phone, one of the only areas where Microsoft is primarily focused on consumer with very little enterprise influence or input. Thompson posits that Windows Phone, alongside the Surface line, is a sort of public research and development effort. "Windows Phone and Surface are little more than glorified R&D projects seeking to keep the company relevant in hardware while they pursue the next big thing," says Thompson.

The Next Big Thing, of course, will likely be HoloLens and Microsoft has been playing this up massively, dedicating the past three big events to the exposition of the product. It's unclear as yet what the final hardware of HoloLens will look like, especially with regard to the internals, but Redmond seems to finally be anticipating what a version of the future could look like.


Microsoft's next big thing is likely to be HoloLens

Xbox spin-off

One of the other pieces of the puzzle Nadella is trying to complete is Xbox, the wildly popular gaming division of the company that has, for years, been a target for analysts who claim it should be spun off into its own company. If this were to happen, and it may well, then both companies would likely see the benefits of independence as they would be able to focus on what they do best without the distraction of bureaucracy (for Xbox) and a niche consumer product (for Microsoft).

Of course, speculation about a breakup comes with caveats: Xbox has become far more integral to Windows 10 and Microsoft's recent purchase of Mojang, the developer behind Minecraft, shows that there is a commitment to gaming, even if it doesn't fit with the current wider picture.

Bold as brass

The new direction of Microsoft is, above all else, bold. Whether it is correct remains to be seen. Windows 10 hasn't been launched just yet but the previews, available to 'insiders,' appear to be taking criticism constructively.

It is refreshing to see Nadella moving in a new direction, decisively cutting areas that are no longer relevant to the company at large rather than persisting for little reward, examples of which are almost entirely focused around Microsoft's online efforts. Whether we are seeing the start of a move away from the consumer side of the company's product offerings remains to be seen, but this could also be a house-keeping episode designed to help Microsoft compete moving forward, focusing on what matters.

Max Slater-Robins has been writing about technology for nearly a decade at various outlets, covering the rise of the technology giants, trends in enterprise and SaaS companies, and much more besides. Originally from Suffolk, he currently lives in London and likes a good night out and walks in the countryside.