It's not so often one comes across a very big company completely re-inventing itself. And Microsoft is that very big company doing so now. It is making a big bet on cloud services and putting all it's resources into being a platform independent service provider. Even Microsoft employees are now allowed to use iPads and iPhones at work. Microsoft no longer cares what hardware you use or what software tool you prefer, it is going to support them all. It just wants you to use at least one of its services/products. And that's a big change for a company its size. It's like Apple allowing Samsung and Motorola to make and brand phones that will run iOS or computers that will run Macintosh.
Microsoft is pulling out of the device fight. It no longer sees itself in the ring with Apple and Google trying to win people over to its platform. Rather it is trying to provide services to everyone regardless of what device or platform you use. It takes Office for iPad seriously and wants it to work as well or better than Office for Windows phone. It's also working harder with Office for Mac super users to figure out ways of improving their user experience. And its Visual Studio now has support for almost all programming languages, frameworks and deployment platform. It's no longer forcing people to use its proprietary tools and already turning several into open source.
It's not perceived as innovative as Apple or Google, and I still find its products sometimes a pain to use. But I can't deny the fact that the company is really working hard at being more innovative and I am beginning to see the results. I am now fully diving into the ASP.Net world and without any worry about its future compared with PHP or Ruby on Rails. There are so many great companies, even leading online companies, that use ASP.Net for their websites. And in the big corporate world, ASP.Net powers a lot of the big companies from banks to oil companies. As much as individual programmers dislike Microsoft the corporate world seems to prefer its services over others. SharePoint, Windows Server and Microsoft Office also rule in the corporate world.
Like Warren Buffett says, "The most desirable thing in any relationship is low expectations. When people have got low expectations from each other then it's harder for anyone of them to be disappointed and wanting to pull out." And I think the same applies to Microsoft. Many people now have low expectations from Microsoft. No one is angry that Microsoft isn't talking of making a Windows Watch or do some radically creative stuff like Google. We are happy with a Microsoft that does what we use it for extremely well. And now that it's pushing itself hard to become more innovative, it's beginning to exceed the expectations of some of us and retain our loyalty.