Silicon Valley developers gathered for a conference on Wednesday. Energy was high, and when tickets went on sale, they sold out in under an hour.
And no, it was not hosted by Apple.
“It definitely seems like it would be the least interesting tech event of possibly the entire year, but Microsoft is having a little bit of a prom king moment,” says Marketplace tech correspondent Molly Wood.
Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella introduced the company’s new operating system, Windows 10, at its Build 2015 conference. For those keeping score, there is no Windows 9, perhaps to avoid any association with Windows 8, which, as Wood put it, “bombed.”
Windows 10 will run across Microsoft devices: desktop computers, laptops, the Windows phone, tablets — even the XBox.
The conference was intended to stoke excitement among developers to build apps using Windows 10, even though sales of Windows phones have largely been disappointing. The prom king moment was brought to you by Nadella, who took over from longtime CEO Steve Ballmer in 2014.
“Microsoft, for a long time, has had this problem where it was very divided,” Wood says. “So even though they’ve been promising a unified Windows experience for at least a decade, it seems like Satya Nadella is actually breaking down the walls.”
Beyond Windows, the most excitement today came from a new augmented reality headset the company is calling HoloLens — “Microsoft’s sort of new, cool attempt to be future-sexy,” Wood called it. “Augmented reality headsets are almost like the next step after virtual reality because they project images onto the real world.”
One demonstration of HoloLens showed medical students examining holograms of cadavers, looking at broken bones and beating hearts.
Despite Microsoft’s reputation as being generally lackluster compared with shiny consumer offerings from Apple and Google, it’s still wildly profitable. It’s worth $400 billion and has annual revenue of $93 billion.
“We should all be ‘failing’ like the rumors of Microsoft failing,” Wood says.
The real strength of its business, what Nadella spent 90 minutes discussing at Build 2015, is Microsoft’s cloud offerings.
“Most of that [revenue], is on those cloud services that Amazon just announced it makes so much money on,” she says. “And so, even if Windows 10 and Windows Phone don’t totally take off, they’re still going to be okay.”
Correction: An earlier version of this story misstated Microsoft’s annual revenue. The text has been corrected.
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