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WPC 2014: Nadella Signals Cultural Shift Coming to Microsoft

Improvements are coming in the way Microsoft does business, according to CEO Satya Nadella.

Speaking at Wednesday's keynote at the Worldwide Partner Conference (WPC), taking place at Washington, D.C., this week, Nadella said the company intends to make changes to its culture.

The message comes on the heels of Nadella's 3,100 memo to Microsoft employees last week. The key takeaways of that message were that Microsoft is now a platform and productivity company, and that it intends to become leaner to bring products to market faster.

At WPC, Nadella followed up on that message. "We change the core of who we are in terms of our organization and how we work and our value to our customers," he said. "That's the hardest part, really. The technology stuff is the simpler thing. We all know that but we need to move forward with the boldness that we can change our culture. It's not even this onetime change -- it's this process of continuous renewal, that [ability] to succeed with our customers."

Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella at WPC on Wednesday.

Nadella's message of change was preceded by a similar one from Phil Sorgen, corporate vice president of the Microsoft Worldwide Partner Group, who kicked off Wednesday's keynote speeches.

"Our success in a mobile-first, cloud-first world will be achieved through a highly successful partner ecosystem. The complexion of this ecosystem may be a little different than it has been in the past," Sorgen said during his presentation. "The business models reflected in it may be a little bit different. But I'm confident there's a place for every single one of you in this future."

The statements comes at a time of unease among Microsoft's ranks. Rumors have surfaced in recent weeks that Microsoft is planning imminent and significant layoffs, believed to be the most extensive in Microsoft's history. According to a Reuters report, Microsoft is planning to lay off 1,000 of the 25,000 new employees it inherited in its $7.2 billion acquisition of Nokia. Those 1,000 employees are based in Finland, Reuters said.

To date, Nadella has not indicated any planned cutbacks.

Nadella did say Microsoft needs to "enable the employees to bring their A-game, do their best work, find deeper meaning in what they do. And that's the journey ahead for us. It's a continuous journey and not an episodic journey. The right way to think about it is showing that courage in the face of opportunity."

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About the Author

Jeffrey Schwartz is editor of Redmond magazine and also covers cloud computing for Virtualization Review's Cloud Report. In addition, he writes the Channeling the Cloud column for Redmond Channel Partner. Follow him on Twitter @JeffreySchwartz.

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