Hit Refresh – A Book By MS CEO Satya Nadella

I recently purchased the hard back copy of Hit Refresh, the new book by Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella. I got it at MS Ignite, and read it on the plane between Orlando and Seattle, and Seattle and San Francisco (a week later).

The book is much like an episode of the TV show, Arrow, blending today with flashbacks of Nadella’s past, using his life story to explain his outlook on managing Microsoft’s future. The book is split into two, first explaining how Nadella got the role and his mission to change the culture of Microsoft, and then the last few chapters explain what Nadella sees as the future.

Most of the first few chapters explain Nadella’s childhood and entry into IT. He wasn’t the classic nerd; he wanted to be a cricket player – that’s like wanting to be a baseball player in the USA, but maybe bigger considering how popular cricket is in a huge country such as India. His father gave him the present of a computer, and like many with an early home computer (ZX-81, I think), he started programming in BASIC, and learned the power of code. Nadella discusses his journey to America, and to Microsoft. Of huge importance, is his personal life and how it formed his outlook on life. Microsoft’s renewed (and genuine) focus on accessibility and community involvement can be better understood by understanding the man.

Nadella’s mission with Microsoft was to change the culture. If you knew Microsoft employees from 5 years ago, they weren’t a happy bunch. Enron’s stack ranking system was used to review staff – someone in the team must always get the “stinker” review – and why would anyone copy anything from Enron, seriously!?!?! The company appeared to have no mission, petty fiefdom squabbling killed innovation, and Microsoft became a place where innovation was unacceptable. Microsoft had plans to get into mobile very early on, but they were killed off. Sinofsky was … you know already! Microsoft was always late to every party, and had become reliant on Office software & Windows sales, both of which were at huge risk. He knew all this, he’d seen things he disagreed with (acquisition of Nokia), and wanted a root change within the corporation.

Phrases like “growth mindset”, “culture change” and “empathy” are throughout the book. Every decision must help the corporation grow – for example, acquiring Minecraft wasn’t an obvious case of growth, but it’s been a marketing coup and has Microsoft products/services in the hands of most under-10s out there. Closing Nokia killed a cancer that was eating Microsoft. And most of all, Nadella did start a culture change. I’ve been dealing with Redmond and engineering teams for 10 years now. In 2010-2012, Microsoft was a bit of a black hole. In 2014, Microsoft was very different; instead of telling us what to think, we were being asked for our thoughts and opinions. I can look at WS2016 and point out things that I and other Windows Server MVPs gave feedback on, including one that MS didn’t think was necessary at all, which became a key feature! I’m regularly in contact with Azure program managers who are hungry for feedback.

Today’s Microsoft takes smart chances with Surface, creates HoloLens, forms alliances with old rivals (Salesforce, RedHat, Apple, Amazon, and more) where there are mutual opportunities that benefit both sets of customers. Microsoft has bent over so far backwards to embrace opensource in Azure that they are probably the most open-friendly public cloud around.

It wasn’t easy for Nadella to accomplish this. He goes into a lot of detail about how this was done. Some of his approaches were rebuffed a bit at first, he broke some traditions, but these are things that needed to be broken.

In the final chapters, he talks about the future of Microsoft. He’s clear that Microsoft completely missed the boat when it came to mobile devices. Microsoft was too late to market and there wasn’t room for a 3rd platform. He’s quite clear about that in interviews – what can Microsoft do that will be different and attractive enough to bring a critical mass of customers to a new product? Simple being another OS doesn’t cut it, and several years of 3 generations of Windows Phone/Mobile proved that. What Microsoft does bring is genius, and the power of the cloud. Microsoft’s big push for the future is based on IoT, AI, and quantum computing. The three solutions are intertwined and there is an indirect consumer link – a customer’s freezer can malfunction, a bot can reach out, and that bot’s AI could be trained/enhanced by quantum computing.

This book isn’t going to change your life. There’s no life & death car chases. No one barely escapes being eaten by a black hole. But if you are interested in the world of Microsoft, this might be an interesting read to understand the new Microsoft. A lot of the text is very Nadella-keynote, being repetitive, dry, and conceptual. But you will come away understanding his thought process, realizing how well read and educated the man his, how he thinks deep about everything, and most of all, why empathy is so important to him.

Microsoft Increasing Prices in the UK

Microsoft announced late last week that prices will be increasing in the UK from January 1st. This has been expected for a while in the channel after the crash of Sterling versus the Euro and the US Dollar (the currency that Microsoft is based on).

FYI, Microsoft has price lists in different currencies for different markets. Those pricelists are based on what Microsoft expects the local currency to do versus the Dollar in the coming period, and Microsoft tries to keep things steady for as long as possible. But every now and then, something happens and a currency crashes and Microsoft starts to lose money, and they need to rectify things. June 23rd was that day.

The UK voted (insanely in my opinion) to leave the EU (I might think the EU has strayed wildly from what citizens want but I wouldn’t leave). On June 22nd, £1 = $1.467790822 USD. Today, £1 = $1.22280, roughly a 16% drop. Let’s put that in some real terms.

A licensed host (the minimum of 16 cores) running Windows Server Datacenter costs roughly £5,200 on Open NL, the most commonly quoted pricing method for MSFT software. On June 22nd, Microsoft earned, in US Dollars, $7,632.51 from that sale. Today, Microsoft makes $6,358.60 from that sale. That’s a drop in revenue of of $1,273.95 from a single sale.

So what’s happening? Microsoft is increasing prices as follows:

  • On-premises software: 13%
  • Cloud services: 22%

Before you start screaming at Microsoft, I’d recommend that you redirect your blame elsewhere. Microsoft did not sabotage UK Sterling and Microsoft is not a charity. Instead, look at those who did burn the Bank of England, namely the politicians, those who voted for Brexit, and those that were too lazy to vote.

Satya Nadella & Brad Smith Speaking at Microsoft Ireland Tech Gathering

I attended today’s Microsoft Ireland Tech Gathering, a surprising event for Microsoft Ireland – they do very little in the public anymore. What’s even more surprising is that Microsoft CEO, Satya Nadella, is in town to speak (here, an earlier CEO breakfast, and a later education event by Dublin City University). Nadella is doing the keynote. I’m in the 7th row, and I have a heavy camera to swing/throw if he talks about Cortana – which only works in 10 countries, and Ireland is not one of the ten Open-mouthed smile (just kidding, big security dudes!).

All photos in this post are the property of Aidan Finn and may not be used without my permission – just ask, it’s easy!

Claire Dillon

The group lead of the local DX (Developer Experience) team takes the stage. She explains what DX is, a team now focused on development (technical architects) and business (account managers) in in the cloud, no longer the mix of devs and IT pros that DPE once was.

There’s a quick reminder of the last Microsoft year. And open source is highlighted.


The world is changing very rapidly. Mobile, cloud, data growth, machine learning, AI, augmented reality …me: these aren’t endpoints, they are the start of a journey. Industries are changing, and cloud/mobile has set an expectation that goods/services are delivered immediately.

There’s an opportunity for start-up small-in the cloud companies – they are flexible and can be disruptive to the larger incumbents. Microsoft Encarta killed Encyclopaedia Britannia’s 244 year old published product. But EB is more profitable than ever! They adapted and transformed to embrace the Internet for delivering their product. WIkipedia is a newer threat to EB. EB focused on a quality and fact checked product, and customers that required that: education, for example.

IT pros and developers are in for an exciting time. Things are changing, and resistance is futile. Some facts:

  • Outlook.com:400 million active users.
  • Office on 340 million mobile devices.
  • Skype users using 3 billion minutes of calls. Sky Translator doing real time comms in 8 languages.
  • 40% of Azure income coming from small business and start ups. 1 in 3 Azure VM are Linux. The data centres consume less than 50% of the power of traditional data centres. 80% of large enterprises using MSFT cloud.

Today will be all about the digital transformation.

  • Satya Nadella, Brad Smith, and Irish MD will evangelize.
  • Then customers will talk about their journey, including some open source.


Cathriona Hallahan

MD of MS Ireland. Large breath of people here, partners, bloggers, media, small customers and large.

Microsoft has transformed under Satya Nadella.


Satya Nadella

CEO of Microsoft.

Vision: to empower every person on the planet to do more. Every product that they make is shaped by this vision. People build institutions to outlast them, including software.


It’s not about MS tech, it’s about what happens with that technology when it’s in customers hands, and how they can transform.

Mobility is not about a device, it’s about our mobility across all the devices in our life. Seamless movement is only possible in the cloud. This is why cloud first, mobile first are happening at the same time. Cloud computing is not a single destination – it’s a distributed computing service.

Digital transformation that customers will achieve through this technology is what is important. Microsoft is building this out through a hyper scale global cloud. 6 regions in Europe. The North Europe region (Dublin) is expanding – there are planning applications/decisions in the local news every now and then.

Azure is being built out as the first AI super computer (SkyNet).

Every compute node in Azure has FPGA’s now. You can distribute your AI across this fabric. N-Series NVIDIA chipsets provide great processing for AI too. But raw infrastructure is not enough. The magic is in software. Microsoft is state-of-the-art in speech and object recognition. Doing stuff with deep neural nets.

The Bot framework was launched 6 months ago. 4500 developers are building new kinds of apps on this framework. Graph gets a nod. Dynamics 365 is brought up – how can we think about business process as a continuum of productivity and comms, instead of putting it into a silo? Every company is becoming a digital company. You want to be able to empower every employee in your company with data, information, and analytics. Predictive and analysis power will be the new strength of a business – can you do it better and faster than your competitor and jump on opportunities. Can you predict service failures and proactively remediate? For example, factory can shift from focusing on the thing they make to the service they offer.

He refers to a digital feedback loop – data coming in and coming back out as intelligence.

How is all this going to diffuse through the world? In Europe, they see a broad spectrum of uses in Europe, and by European companies around the world. Access to the technology is critical. A Swiss company called Temenos has democratized access to banking s/w in Asia. They use the public cloud – there’s a video.


Some local Irish examples. He met with AIB and talked about their strategies. They are using the cloud and their data centers to transform customer banking. Office 365 is being rolled out to empower employees. Cubic Telecom is working with Automative Industry – to connect every car to a mobile phone network – s/w allows a car to move to any region and have network support without changing hardware. eHealth Ireland is connecting patients with doctors, providing information in patients’ most vulnerable moments.

In the future, this infinite cloud infrastructure and new types of devices (AR, VR, IoT) is what will transform every life and every industry. HoloLens is an infinite display – mixing realities. Another video.

When you change the way you see the world, you change the world you see.

It is incumbent on technology pros and government to ask if a tech is going to help everyone on the planet. MSFT launching a book called a cloud for global good.


Brad Smith

Chief legal man in Microsoft.

Started his career in MS France. Talks about the history of MS in Ireland – from manufacturing CDs, to eventually be involved in a global cloud issue. Their data center in Ireland lead to litigation in the USA about the FBI demanding access to a mailbox in Dublin – Microsoft won, in case you didn’t know. It was good news for Microsoft, and great news for the cloud. Microsoft touring Europe this week to talk about the globality of the cloud.

He reckons that the cloud is a new industrial revolution – a recap of what he presented at WPC earlier this year.

The cloud is powering all of the current digital transformations. How do we ensure that this cloud serves everyone and not just the lucky few. We need to act with shared responsibility. The new book as 72 recommendations to ensure a cloud for global good.


We need a new set of cyber security rules. We need personal rights for data crossing borders.

We more than just trust. We need a cloud that is responsible, and respects human rights and public safety.

We need to advance sustainability. MS data centers already consuming the same power as a small US state. This is escalating. MS committed to get better every year on use of renewable energy and to be transparent. By 2018, it’s to hit 50% or better, and 60% in the next decade … but they need help with supply.

We need laws to enable AI, but laws to control ethics.

The cloud needs to be more inclusive for people around the world. Form access to digital literacy, developing skills for the next generations.

To build a digital economy, you need to build a learning economy. We need to connect rural communities – the cloud can reduce distances. We need to think about people with disabilities – 300 million are visually impaired. Over 1 billion those with some kind of disability. They have potential to do great, but face obstacles to adopt and achieve.

WPC 2016 Day 3 Keynote

Welcome to the Wednesday keynote at WPC, the Microsoft partner conference. This keynote is usually very business, strategy and competition based. It was usually the stage for COO (and head of sales) Kevin Turner, who recently left Microsoft to become the CEO of a finance company. We’ll see how his replacements handle this presentation in the fuzzier warmer world of the new Satya Nadella Microsoft.


Gavriella Schuster

The corporate vice president worldwide partner group kicks things off by thanking repeat attendees and welcomes first-timers too.


Washington DC will be the venue in 2017. There’s a bunch of speakers today at the keynote. Gavriella hands over and will return later.

Brad Smith

The chief lawyer comes on stage.


I like him as a a blogger/speaker … very plain spoken which is unusual for a legal person, especially for someone of his rank, and strikes me as being honestly passionate.

He starts to talk about the first industrial revolution which was driven by steam power. We had mass manufacturing and transport that could start to replace the horse. In the late 1800s we had the second revolution. He shows a photo of Broadway, NY. That time, 25% of all agriculture was taken to feed horses … lots of horse drawn transport. 25 years later, Broadway is filled with trams and cars and no horses. And then we had the PC – the 3rd revolution. We are now at the start of the 4th:

  • Advances in physical computing: machines, 3D printing, etc.
  • Biology: Genomes, treatment, engineering.
  • Digital: IoT, Blockchain, disruptive business models.

Each revolution was driven by 1 or 2 techs. The 4th revolution has one connection between everything: The Cloud, which explains MIcrosoft’s investments in the last decade: over 100 data centres in 40 countries, opening the world to new possibilities.

Toni Townes-Whitley


While there’s economic opportunity, we also need to address societal impact. Growth of business doesn’t need to be irresponsible. 7.4 billion people can be positively impacted by digital transformation – just not by Cortana at the moment. There’s a video on how Azure data analytics is used by a school district to council kids.

Back to Smith.

What do we need to do?

  1. Build a cloud that people can trust. People need confidence that rights and protections that they’ve enjoyed will persist. Microsoft will engineer to protect customers from governments, but Microsoft will assist governments with legal searches, e.g. taking 30 minutes to do searches after the Paris attacks. More transparency. Microsoft is suing the US government to allow customers to know that their data is being seized. Protect people globally. The US believes that US law applies everywhere else. They play a video of a testimony where a questioner rips apart a government witness about the FBI/Microsoft/Ireland mailbox case.We need an Internet that is governed by good law. We need to practice what we preach. Cloud vendors need to respect people’s privacy.
  2. A responsible cloud. The environment – Azure consumes more electricity than the state of Vermont. Soon it could be the size of a mid-size European country. This is why Microsoft is going to be transparent about consumption and plans. R&D will be focused on consuming less electricity. They are going to use renewable electricity more – I think that’s where Europe North is sourced (wind).
  3. An inclusive cloud. It’s one of the defining issues of our time. Humans have been displaced from so many jobs of 100 years ago. What jobs will disappear in the next 10, 20, 50 years? Where will the new jobs come from and where will those people come from? Business needs to lead – and remember that the western population is getting older! Coding and computer science needs to start earlier in school. Broader bridges are better than higher walls – diversity is better for everyone. We need to reach every country with public cloud.

Cool videos up. One about a village in rural Kenya that gets affordable high-speed Internet via UHF whitespace. A young man there works tech support for a US start up. Next is a school where OneNote is being used for special needs teaching. A kid with dyslexia and dysgraphia goes from reading 4 words per minute and called himself stupid – one year later he reads way better and knows he’s not stupid, he just needed the right help.

Gavriella Schuster

Back to talk to us again. The only constant in life is change … welcome to IT 🙂 It is not only constant, but faster, and self-driven.


Cloud speeds drive the pace of change faster than ever before. Industries have changed faster than ever: Air BnB, Netflix and Uber. Customers change too. More than 1 cloud feature improvement per day last year in MSFT.

The greater cloud model will top $500B by 2020. Cloud is the new normal. IDC says that 80% of business buyers have deployed or fully embrace the cloud. You need to be quick to capture this opportunity: embrace, innovate and be agile … or be left behind.

Triple growth on Azure this year. 17,000 partners are transacting CSP. 3 million seats sold. In May alone, CSP sales exceed that of Open, Advisor, and syndication.

Microsoft asked their most profitable partners what it is that they do to be so profitable.


65% of buyers make their decision before talking to a sales person. I see that in the questions I get asked. Often the wrong question is being asked. Microsoft partners need to be where their customers are, and influence that decision/question earlier in the process.

In the next 2 years, customer cloud maturity will go from 10% to 50%. In the next 3 years, 60% of CIOs expect themselves to be the chief innovation (not just IT) officer. Now is the time to invest in new ways of doing business, not just “sell some cloud”.

Steve Guggenheimer

I guess he’s a fan of New Zealand’s All Blacks. I wonder if we’ll get a Microsoft Haka?


The chief dev evangelist and owner of the MVP program comes out. This will be dev-centric, I’m guessing, so I might tune out.

He announces Microsoft Professional Degree. Some sort of mixture of self- and class-based learning to become a data scientist (huge industry shortage).

There is an “intellectual property” 5 minute break here.

Judson Althoff

Freshly promoted to partly replace Kevin Turner as COO, now the Executive Vice President Worldwide Commercial Business.


He reaffirms the message that Microsoft will continue to be lead by partners. CSP is their preferred channel, and CSP is an exclusively partner-sold and -invoiced channel.

Very interesting video where MSFT partnered with a smart-glasses company to make a vision assistant for visually impaired people, that is paired with a phone, and driven by the cloud. For example, it guides him to take a photo of a menu, and then reads out the items. He can get descriptions of people around him, including facial expressions – “a 40 year old man with a surprised expression”.

6 priorities that MSFT sales force will work with partners on over the next year:


86% of CEOs think digital is their number 1 priority. You have to speak in the vernacular of business outcomes, not tech features.

I like a line from Judson in a video: We can’t do this stuff ourselves. This is a joint opportunity.

You have to rethink your own customer engagement, and not live on the old transactional engagement of the past. Embrace the cloud and move forward. Focus on customer lifetime value, not just a sale ( love this line, and it applies to a lot of partners who really mis-understand the capabilities of the cloud).

Now for the fun: competition 🙂 First, Azure.


The number 1 reason that customers are leaving AWS, not considering Google, and coming to Azure is the partner-ability with Microsoft.

Office 365:


True-cross platform capability. Office 2016 was out on the Apple platforms before Windows!

Microsoft is differentiating with security from the device/user to the data center (a unique selling point):


“Data is the new black”. Microsoft does everything from relational data on-prem to unstructured data in the cloud. Data is the ticket to the C-suite (the board).

And that’s all folks!


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WPC 2016 Day 2 Keynote

Scott Guthrie

I join this session late, and Guthrie is talking about the growth of Azure’s data platform before segwaying to EMS, renamed to Enterprise Mobility + Security.

Julia White

She is showing off features from the new E5 plan (Q4 2016).

Azure Information Protection adds classification to the protection of Azure RMS (being upgraded to AIP). Julia creates a document. AIP automatically classifies the document. She wants to reduce the classification and she’s prompted to justify this (audited). The document is secured for safe sharing, no matter who gets it or where it goes.

Cloud App Security is next. 512 cloud apps are discovered in a demo organization. Each app gets a score from 0-10, measuring the security profile of that SaaS application – 13,000 apps are profiled in CAP. She browses one and sees that files are shared publicly. She opens up policies and opens a PCI compliance one. It shows two hits in that app – and she can see where credit card info is being shared in a doc in OneDrive. She can secure it straight from the CAP portal by making the file private, without going into OneDrive.

Back to Scott Guthrie.


OMS is a server management solution, now available via the CSP program – it was restricted to EA customers only.

Kirk Koenigsbauer

Employees work on double the number of teams that they did 5 years ago. Working remotely has quadrupled. Millenials will make up 50% of all US workers – they’re biased to multi-tasking, working in teams, and working remotely .. and they work differently. 90% of the world’s data was generated in the last 2 years … making information overload worse. 87% of senior managers admit to uploading docs to personal file sharing/sync systems to get stuff done, shadow IT bypassing the restrictions of old IT.


The focus here is re-inventing productivity for the way we work – digital transformation. 4 pillars.


Office 365 is used by more than 70+ million work users, with growth being 57% year over year. The email workload has been a driver. Gartner says Microsoft has 80% share in enterprises for cloud email. With the E5 SKU, partners make 1.8x revenue … and a sustained managed service business that you’ll never get from stopping after email migration where most partners opt to stop.

Facebook uses Office 365. It makes sense, especially when you look at features like Yammer, Planner, Groups, Graph, Delve, which are all about collaborative flexi-teams, supported by information, self-service management with Azure AD Premium. “Move fast” is the most important factor in Facebook culture and Office 365 supports this.

Yusuf Mehdi

Now on to Windows and devices – the breakthrough to more personal computing. There’s a demo video of Microsoft devices in action.


We have challenges:

  • New security threats.
  • Pen and voice provide new user interfaces.
  • 2D screens are restrictive. Mixed reality (HoloLens) can break the barrier.

There are more than 350,000,000 monthly active Windows 10 devices. 96% of enterprises are testing Windows 10 and will need deployment skills in the next year.

Security threats are real. They take over 200 days to discover and 70 days the recover from. Hackers are targeting endpoints: weaknesses in IT processes and users. The FBI says there are two kinds of companies: those that have been hacked and those that don’t know it yet.

Windows 10 could have prevented the Home Depot, Target (both pass the hash attacks) and Sony attacks, apparently. Passwords are a problem. 1 in 9 have gone to a website and not used it because they cannot remember the password. In 2.5 weeks in the anniversary update, you will be able to log into websites and apps using Windows Hello (face or finger scan). Credential Guard protects against pass the hash attacks. We see demos of Windows 7 versus Windows 10 – Windows 7 is compromised but Windows 10 is safe. Device Guard hardens a system so that malware cannot run. In a demo, the firewall is up and Defender is running. He opens a “Contoso Expense app” and the security features are turned off, but on Windows 10, Device Guard blocks the malware from running. In the anniversary update, a new feature adds more security. Advanced Threat Protection dashboard can be used to monitor machines by security professionals. You can even go back in time to investigate penetrations.

Pen, Cortana, HoloLens, and Xbox gaming all get updates in the anniversary update. Out comes demo god, Bryan Roper, straight from the set of Dexter.


First, Windows Ink, a platform. Visual Studio demo – 4 lines of code to link enable an app. Now a BridgeStone demo, and he has a tyre, and drills a screw into it. Then he gets a hole in the side wall.


And then a larger hole.


He gets his surface and starts taking ink notes on the tyre inspection. He takes evidence by using the Surface camera, and starts highlighting things in the photo using the pen.


And he’s done. Back to Yusuf.

Windows 10 Enterprise E3 is coming to the cloud (starting in the fall). SMEs can get the latest Windows 10 security features for $7/month per user (not per device) via Cloud Service Provider (CSP) resellers.

Surface-as-a-Service will be sold by CSP Tier 2 distributors that are also authorized device distributors. This is a leasing service … so they can get cloud (Office 365, EMS, Azure, etc), Surface, Windows 10, all on a per-user per month basis.

On to HoloLens for mixed reality. The PGA is working with HoloLens. The following demo was created in 8 weeks by 3 developers using an universal app. There’s a huge hologram of a golf course that they browse around using voice and gestures. They put up a heat map of PGA player shots on a hole. They switch to showing the route to an eagle by a single player.


Back to Yusuf, who wraps up this keynote.

WPC 2016 Monday Keynote

Welcome to day 1 of the Microsoft WPC 2016, Microsoft’s sales motivation/education event for partners of Microsoft (ISVs, system integrators, OEMs, ODMs, hosting/cloud, distributors, resellers, etc), being held in Toronto, Canada. I’m in the office in Dublin, watching the stream – I don’t attend WPC because it is a sales event, but sometimes there can be relevant news for techies in the partner world.

Opening Presentation

A young woman from El Salvador talks about how she’s used Microsoft cloud technologies to work in a community torn by gang violence, doing more to empower people’s lives … something along the lines of Microsoft’s mission statement.

Then on to some “poet/performer” singing something cheesy. BTW, does Canada still have a rule to forces media to play a large percentage of Canadian artists? Singing children in colourful t-shirts. My teeth hurt.

Gavriella Schuster


Gavriella Schuster, Corporate Vice President forMicrosoft’s Worldwide Partner Group (WPG), sings the praises of the global partner of the year winners.

Today is all about “where we are going”. Satya Nadella will be on stage. Gavriella will be back with Judson Althoff, Executive Vice President for Worldwide Commercial Business, on Wednesday.

Satya Nadella

Satya opts again for the quiet entrance during a video (Cortana).


Microsoft will always be a partner-lead company, says Nadella, reaffirming that promise that is tangible with the push on cloud via the partner-lead CSP model.

Microsoft is the only ecosystem that cares about people and organizations, enabling systems to outlast them. Microsoft was the original democratizing force (in IT because of Windows and the PC). The last bit of the statement (below) is about customer results, which isn’t exclusive to MSFT tech – this includes partner and competitor tech.


What do CEOs mean by digital transformation? Lots of comments from different industries. More efficiencies via digital delivery, more opportunities with every customer contact, etc. Satya summarises it as changing business outcomes.


Where there is OPEX there are increased efforts on efficiencies, decision making and productivity. This, and the COGS expenses (Cost of goods sold – IoT, retail, etc), provide huge opportunities for partners.

I’m going to pause here.

Satya talks about conversation-based-computing being the next big platform. It must not be, if the platform (Cortana) only works in 10 countries. Moving on to Azure.

Satya puts the sales push on Azure. It’s in more places and has more security and trust than anything else – see China and Germany where the same platform runs on locally-owned infrastructure. And then it’s talk show time with GE. I’m pausing here again.

There’s some Cortana stuff which is irrelevant for all but 10 countries, On to Windows 10. No transformations will be complete without having the right devices at the edge. More personal computing are shaped by category creation moments. We are at one such moment with mixed reality – HoloLens, which MSFT is pushing as a work device long before (or ever) it’s a consumer device. Example, train aircraft engineers without purchasing a jet engine or taking a plane out of operation, and in complete safety. Here’s a demo by Japan Airline JAL.


And at full engine scale:


They hologram a throttle control from a cockpit to see how fuel flows through the engine and start it.


It is now available as a developer and an enterprise edition.

And to be honest, that was that.

MVP Award – Year 9

I received word this afternoon that I was awarded MVP status by Microsoft for my 9th year.

What is an MVP? According to Microsoft:

For more than two decades, the Microsoft MVP Award has provided us an opportunity to say thank you to independent community leaders and to bring the voice of community into our technology roadmap through direct relationships with Microsoft product teams and events such as the MVP Global Summit.

Microsoft Most Valuable Professionals, or MVPs, are community leaders who’ve demonstrated an exemplary commitment to helping others get the most out of their experience with Microsoft technologies. They share their exceptional passion, real-world knowledge, and technical expertise with the community and with Microsoft.

Back in 2008, I became an MVP with the SCCM expertise. My career got a jump start because now I had an inside channel to the people developing the products I was working with … sort of. I was actually working with Hyper-V then, and I was switched to the Hyper-V expertise (which was bundled into Cloud & Datacenter Management last year) in 2009.

I’ve been blogging, writing, podcasting, presenting, and teaching about Microsoft products, interacting with customers of all sizes from around the world. I’ve even had the privilege to shape some of Microsoft’s products with my feedback, based on community/customer interactions and my own hands-on experience. Trust me – knowing that cloud service X exists because I got angry (Aidan smash!), or feature Y in an on-premises product is there because me and some others were lucky enough to be in the right meeting … that’s pretty thrilling.

We’re in the middle of an era of change. Only 30 minutes ago I was recommending a complete change in something to my boss based on what Microsoft is doing, and on what I’m guessing that they’ll announce in the next year or so (no; I’m not telling). On-premises is shaking up, and the move to infrastructure in the cloud is accelerating. As an MVP, I’m privileged to be in the thick of it, getting briefed on things, having my opinion sought out, maybe impacting features by feedback, and getting an early education that I’m able to then share with you.

I’m honoured to be awarded for my 9th award as an MVP, and look forward to what lies in the year ahead.

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My First Hands-On With Surface Book

We’re still not able to distribute Surface Book in Ireland, but I got a very brief play with a demo unit in the office yesterday. What was it like?

Let me preface it by saying that I have owned 3 high-end ultrabooks over the last few years:

  • Asus UX31 which is a class piece of design, other than the flat keyboard. The brushed aluminium back always makes people ask “what is that?”. It’s a few years since I’ve had it out on the road, but only 2 weeks ago some people were asking me about that machine at an event I was speaking at.
  • Lenovo Yoga S1 (gen 2 Yoga laptops): I love the hybrid design, and replacing the 1 TB HDD with a 1 TB SSD made this machine fly. The keyboard is superb (my fave by far) but I wish the screen was a bit larger – the bezel is huge.
  • Toshiba KIRAbook (from work): Similar from a distance to the Asus UX31 but it has a plastic body. It’s very light and thin, and the screen is superb – it has the high res of the UX31 and better screen quality than both of the above. On the downside, this consumer machine is not made from parts that were designed for heavy use.

So how did the Surface Book compare? Straight away, the white/gray material stands out from the crowd. This is a machine that will make people ask “what is that?” and that’s certainly a big positive, especially for people that will be paying a premium for this premium machine. When you lift it up, it feels like a sing piece of nice metal (some might say heavy). But there’s a solid and quality feel about it.

The screen is a little big for a tablet, but few will use it as a tablet. I doubt I would. But it detached cleanly for me. You might be worried about compute being in the screen, but the Surface Book seems to be weighted just right to avoid topple-over which every convertible tablet I’ve tried suffers from. And the screen – wow. If you’ve tried Surface Pro then you know what Microsoft can do with a screen. If you like punchy contrast and vivid natural colours, then Surface Pro and Surface Book might be the machines for you … I am into photography so a quality screen for editing is a necessity.

The keyboard is nice -it’s not Lenovo nice but it’s better than the UX31 or KIRAbook. The track pad is lovely and big – and might be the best I’ve used on a laptop. The stylus works very nicely with a lovely sense of friction that I haven’t gotten from the Yoga or a Samsung tablet. My handwriting was as good as it gets.

I tried Windows Hello sign-in via 3D face scan. It works much better than the Lumia 950. It works from normal viewing distance and it is quick. I think I’d use that as my primary way to unlock the Surface Book.

This machine had the recent updates which appear to have resolved most of the issues so it was shutting down quickly and effectively, and start up was instant. We have not noticed any of the old issues.

I didn’t have much time to play so this isn’t what I’d call a full review – see the posts by Brad Sams and Pault Thurrott on Petri.com for that. But I will say that Surface Book, albeit at a very high price, might be the best quality laptop that I’ve tried.

Microsoft News – 28 September 2015

Wow, the year is flying by fast. There’s a bunch of stuff to read here. Microsoft has stepped up the amount of information being released on WS2016 Hyper-V (and related) features. EMS is growing in terms of features and functionality. And Azure IaaS continues to release lots of new features.


Windows Client


System Center

Office 365




Microsoft News 13-August-2015

Hi folks, it’s been a while since I’ve posted but there’s a great reason for that – I got married and was away on honeymoon 🙂 We’re back and trying to get back into the normal swing of things. I was away for the Windows 10 launch, happily ignoring the world. Windows 10 in the businesses is not a big deal yet – Microsoft needs to clear up licensing and activation for businesses before they’ll deliberately touch the great new OS – I’ve already had customers say “love it, but not until we get clarification”.


Windows Server



System Center

Office 365