Hello, Microsoft

After the outpouring of well wishes that so many readers shared following my “Farewell, Nokia” post, let me preface this week’s update by offering my appreciation to all of you who contacted me. I like to think that I enjoyed an even happier first week at Microsoft than my colleagues because you gave me an excuse to reconnect with old friends and coworkers. Thank you.

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Last week, “they” finally became “we.”

Ever since Microsoft and Nokia first announced their deal in September, 2013, those of us who had been working for Nokia could only wonder what it really felt like to work for Microsoft, a powerful and respected market leader that faced so much change.

Now, all of Microsoft’s opportunities and challenges have become “ours,” not “theirs.” I, for one, can’t wait to dive in.

Before I explain why that is so, here are a few highlights from my first week at Microsoft. On Day One, I visited 11 Times Square in Manhattan, a space that still looks and smells brand new after having opened just about three months ago. The office includes several rooms that look like stage sets designed to showcase Microsoft home and office technology. Imagine a cozy family room rigged with touch screen TV monitors, Xbox video game consoles outfitted with Kinect motion sensors, and laptops, tablets and phones all within arm’s reach. I was a bean bag chair and a bowl of popcorn away from considering a change of address.

Later in the week, I worked from the company’s Sunnyvale office. In both locations, I met Microsoft workers who expressed an authentic eagerness for us former Nokians to come on board.

It’s not accurate to say that these encounters delivered true first impressions. After all, we’ve been partners since February, 2011, when Nokia announced its support for the Windows Phone platform. Still, it’s different now that I have a Microsoft employee ID and business cards.

Here, then, is my not-quite-first impression of the company.

Microsoft knows it is a challenger with many strengths. When we acknowledge that the addressable market for computing includes smartphones and not just PCs, where Windows remains the dominant platform, that challenger mindset makes a lot of sense. Everyone I’ve met at Microsoft recognizes that the market has changed to the cloud-first, mobile-first world that CEO Satya Nadella has squarely in his sights.

We spent our first week celebrating the end of a long journey and the start of something important. This week, we’ll throw ourselves right back into the thick of things. After all, we face powerful competitors all over the world who are not slowing down to acknowledge two technology titans coming together. Everything about our work that was urgent and important two weeks ago remains urgent and important this week. In fact, we have to raise our game.

Many people have asked me if my role will change. For now, the answer is “no.” I remain the Global Director of Applications and Partner Marketing, which mean it’s still my job to insinuate apps into our device marketing campaigns and help top third party developers achieve their apps’ business objectives. In a mobile-first world where apps are an essential component of any device offering, I have plenty to keep me busy.

It would be misleading to suggest that I’ve got a real feel for the place after just one week, but I’m awfully encouraged by what I’ve seen so far. Microsoft has industry-leading product lines throughout the company. It has a culture of performance and accountability that expects to win. It has aligned around a simple, clear and compelling vision. It has firmly established Windows Phone as the third ecosystem, but none of us are content with bronze medals.

I can’t wait for “us” to get under way and change that.

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Post-script: This week, I’ll be attending the Mobile Marketing Association Forum in NYC. If you’re going and want to meet up, contact me via Twitter at @amherstmatt.

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