Since its inception way back in the ancient epoch known as the 1970s, Microsoft has often been ridiculed for making mistakes. Whether it was for bad business strategies, poor products, or unscrupulous practices, Microsoft seemed to bring out the passionate ire in many people.
But what often gets overlooked is what Microsoft does right each year. And by just about any measurement, 2016 was a remarkable year for the company. Under the leadership of Satya Nadella, Microsoft has changed its business strategy to reflect what it describes as a mobile-first, cloud-first business world. And in 2016, that strategy began show results.
Here, in no particular order, are five things Microsoft got right in 2016.
1. Windows 10 Anniversary Update
To mark the one-year anniversary of Windows 10, Microsoft released a large patch it dubbed the Windows 10 Anniversary Update. Okay, so Microsoft is not very clever in naming things. But the patch itself was well received. It included new security measures, new program features, Microsoft Edge browser extensions, and advanced support for digital pens, among many other enhancements. If you were already using Windows 10, the Anniversary Update was a must.
2. Surface Studio
While not its primary business, Microsoft has been developing some noteworthy pieces of hardware the past few years and in 2016, the company generated a large amount of buzz with the release of the Surface Studio. This elegant computer combines the best of the desktop, laptop, and tablet to create a unique and innovative platform perfect for artists, designers, and other creative people. With data visualization becoming ever more important, Microsoft may have invented the perfect tool for the big data generation.
3. Microsoft Office 365
I have been wondering aloud if it is a bit too much, but there can be no doubt that with the dozens of program and feature updates released in 2016, Microsoft Office 365 is the alpha and omega of productivity software. Rather than trying to name all of the new features, it would be best to concentrate on the underlying theme: collaboration. Whether it is Yammer, Skype for Business, or the intelligent cloud, Microsoft is concentrating on features necessary for success in a collaborative environment.
In 2016, Microsoft made several acquisitions of both companies and their technologies. Perhaps the most high-profile of these acquisitions was LinkedIn. Despite all of its efforts to create a collaboration platform with Office 365, the one thing Microsoft needed was a social networking component. LinkedIn gives the company a jump start toward establishing a social networking presence that can compete with the likes of Twitter and Facebook. It will be interesting to see what Microsoft does with this acquisition.
5. IoT, AI, and machine learning
While we may live in a mobile-first, cloud-first world right now, the future may very well revolve around the Internet of Things (IoT), artificial intelligence, and machine learning. To its credit, Microsoft sees the potential of these technologies and has taken steps to get ahead of the curve. In terms of recent history, getting ahead of the curve is not something Microsoft has done very well, so it is difficult to know where the research will lead, but it should prove to be worth watching closely.
Despite what some people may tell you, Microsoft does do some things right. In fact, for the most part, the company does more things right than it does wrong. In 2016, Microsoft did many things right and consumers and businesses have been the beneficiaries. Let's hope Microsoft can continue the trend in 2017.
- Microsoft Office 365: The smart person's guide
- Microsoft Surface Studio: The smart person's guide
- Microsoft looks to dominate the market for digital tools for artists
- Windows 10: The smart person's guide
I listed five things Microsoft got right—but what did it get wrong in 2016? Share your thoughts with your peers in the discussion below.
Mark W. Kaelin has been writing and editing stories about the IT industry, gadgets, finance, accounting, and tech-life for more than 25 years. Most recently, he has been a regular contributor to BreakingModern.com, aNewDomain.net, and TechRepublic.