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Microsoft's period of congenial cooperation could be over

Microsoft's period of congenial cooperation could be over
From TechCrunch - November 14, 2017

A couple of years ago while a guest of Marc Benioff onstage at Salesforces Dreamforce customer conference, Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella said something that seemed to signal a new period of amicable cooperation for his company. Several pieces of evidence seem to suggest that the period of friendly cooperation that was in full bloom in 2015 could be over, and not just with Salesforce.

At the time, Nadella said something rather profound about the need for big brands to cooperate in the age of the cloud: It is incumbent upon us, especially those of us who are platform vendors to partner broadly to solve real pain points our customers have, Nadella said in 2015.

When you looked at the comment against the backdrop of the time, it appeared to be a giant signal that Microsoft was open to forging new agreements with competitors that would be mutually beneficial to the companies involved, and would help customers solve those real pain points he alluded to.

Essentially, Nadella was stating the obvious that in the age of the cloud, companies needed to work together more than ever before because customers were demanding it. Yet even at that time, Nadella made it clear his company fully intended to compete hard within markets against Salesforce and everyone elsethe cooperation only went so farbut he saw an opportunity for his company by playing the role of affable partner.

This was in stark contrast to the model that Bill Gates and Steve Ballmer followed. Back then, it was more of a battle of large companies with full stacks trying to lock customers into their computing approach. In that world, working together wasnt a desirable goal, which is why Nadellas more conciliatory tone was so surprising to hear in 2015.

The same went for long-time rival Apple. After years of going at it with Apple, Microsoft was looking to soften things a bit. Perhaps Tim Cook put it best at the partnership announcement when he said, Apple and Microsoft can partner on more things than we can compete on, and that is what the customer wantsOffice on the Mac is a force. Partnering with Microsoft is great for our customers and thats why we do it, Cook told the audience at BoxWorks in 2015 when that spirit was in its full glory

By 2017, however, it has become increasingly clear that the message we should have listened to wasnt the cooperation part, but the fact the Microsoft would compete hard in markets. As they move forward, Microsofts softer side under Nadella appears to be hardening a bit. The tone has shifted and gotten a bit harsher and they are, as he told us, competing hard.

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