At Microsoft’s Build 2019 developer conference here in Seattle, there’s a word I heard far less than many expected: Windows.
Since CEO Satya Nadella took the reigns of Microsoft in 2014, there’s been a big focus on Azure, Microsoft’s cloud computing platform and suite of services, which Nadella worked on before his ascendancy. Funding to the Windows division has been cut, Windows head Terry Myerson left, and a lot of work has been put on Microsoft services on other operating systems, like iOS, macOS and Android.
And at Nadella’s keynote, that was clear. Windows was brought up a few times as part of Microsoft 365, its combination of Office products, enterprise mobility and security, and, of course, Windows 10.
But Windows is still going strong. And one executive hinted at that strength.
Rajesh Jha, executive vice president of the Experiences and Devices group (which encompasses Office 365, which he previously headed up), made a joke about it when he hosted the Microsoft 365 technical keynote at Build.
“If you’re all here to learn about Windows and Office, you’re still in the right place,” Jha joked just half an hour following Nadella’s keynote, which barely mentioned either.
Then he spouted the big number: one billion people using Windows.
That’s individuals, businesses and education. And they’re not all jumping ship at once. Windows may not be the focus of the company anymore (Microsoft missed the chance to move it to mobile phones. It knows it), but it’s a hugely profitable business for Microsoft.
In a recent profile of Microsoft under Nadella, Bloomberg Businessweek pegged Windows as being a $20 billion-per-year business. In its Q3 Fiscal Year 2019 earnings report in April, the revenue from MIcrosoft’s “More Personal Computing” group, was $10.7 billion. Some of that included Windows OEM revenue (up 9 percent), Windows commercial products and cloud services (up 18 percent) and Surface revenue (up 21 percent) -- all devices or services that depend on Windows 10.
And interoperability is hugely important. Android and iOS owners still use Windows and Office, so it makes sense to focus on it (and, of course, those devices are selling like hotcakes. Some people's first machines run Android, not Windows). It also makes sense to put the spotlight on Azure, the burgeoning new star on Microsoft’s Redmond campus and beyond. And surely, Microsoft would rather not just have developers do work on Windows 10, but also Azure, the Microsoft Graph and Office.
Much of the immediate future of Windows 10 - the imminent May 2019 update - has already been revealed in the form of Insider builds. Builds of 19H2 and 20H1 are still forthcoming, even in some Insider Builds.
So at Build 2019, Microsoft focused elsewhere. It’s weird for the company to be so quiet about its operating system with a billion users, but developers and users don’t have to worry about its disappearance.
Note: As with all of our op-eds, the opinions expressed here belong to the writer alone and not Tom's Hardware as a team.