Unbound Edition. Meaningful conversations about brand, from Davis Brand Capital.

Microsoft Is Spending Cash To Reinvent Itself

Microsoft has been having a love affair with well-designed iOS and Android apps lately: after acquiring email client Acompli last year, the software giant announced yesterday that it also also acquired Sunrise, an intelligent calendar app. Both are available on Android and iOS, but lack versions for Windows. Looking from the outside, you might assume Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer has taken over Microsoft and is acquiring every hotnew startup that makes cool software, hoping for consumer relevance amid a quest for talent. While Yahoo’s investments have been odd at times, with little obvious return, Microsoft’s have made an immediate impact. They’re part of Microsoft’s reinvention.

That reinvention — fueled by CEO Satya Nadella’s willingness to tap the company’s war chest — is turning Microsoft from a Windows-centric operation into a true software maker. Acompli has quickly transformed into Microsoft’s cross-platform Outlook email app, and it’s reasonable to assume Sunrise will meet the same fate or stand alone as an Office-branded calendar app. Both of these acquisitions have one thing in common: Office. Microsoft surprised many by making Office free on iPhone, iPad, and Android late last year. It was the first bold move from new CEO Satya Nadella after he’d replaced Steve Ballmer, alongside a strategic partnership with Dropbox to integrate the cloud service more closely into Office. Consumers now have a set of high quality apps that bring some traditional desktop computing tasks to mobile devices with ease. Many questioned how Microsoft would make money on iOS and Android with free apps, while others just praised the fact there was finally a great Office app for free. Either way, the moves got people talking about how Microsoft is changing.

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