New tune or golden oldie? Microsoft cues up the cloud chorus

Microsoft can beat the drum all it wants for cloud and services, but people still want to hear its greatest hits: Office and XP

"I think Nutella is really changing things at Microsoft." This golden statement came from my mom, and it took me a second before I realized she meant Nadella. I love this, and it's my new favorite name for him.

Of course, the follow-up questions commenced: "Why don't you finally grow up and get a real job working for him?" Because this is a real job, kind of; there's no way I can handle Seattle weather; he doesn't know or care who I am; and if he did, I fully expect him to drop me into the shark tank underneath his office at his earliest opportunity.

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Mom's partially right. It's big news that Microsoft seems to be changing its philosophy, and Nadella is certainly taking credit. But I think it has less to do with his visionary decision making and more with policies the company has been inching toward for some time, considering the guy's been sitting over his aquarium of man-eaters for nary three months.

I'm trying to get excited about it. But while it looks like a brave, new licensing world above the covers, so far, it's really a desperation move on several fronts to make this year's revenue numbers and net Nadella's first Ballmer-sized bonus in July.

Microsoft needs to at least look like it's getting on board the cloud-apps-only revenue trend with the rest of the Silicon Valley crowd, and that plan appears to be set in motion. But remember, it's still Microsoft. Silicon Valley is a totally different culture where espresso mixed with blow is an acceptable substitute for plasma, and Rap Genius passes for "world-changing technology."

Microsoft's a little craftier than that. These moves are testing for new ways to make it rain with cash, while addressing the constant question coming from many millions of customers: "Why are you forcing me to get off XP, you evil, revenue-snarfing bastards?"

You call that an office suite?

Look at Office for iPad closely, and you'll see it for what it is: three apps that let you think your iPad finally has a place in the office, but are really a dumbed-down experience designed to make you long for a full-featured, tablet-centric version of Office. Nadella figures you'll eventually froth at the mouth, fling your iPad out the window, and snap up a sleek, full-Office Surface.

I'm basing this on early third-party descriptions of Office for iPad (sorry, I'm not polluting my iPad info-tainment toy with anything that even resembles work). The critics cite details like little integration between the three apps, no real touch support (WTF?), and (surprise, surprise) OneDrive as the only cloud storage option. That makes me want to use my iPad for the office about as much as I wanted to attend the cat rodeo Pammy dragged me to this weekend. It's a little love for a non-Microsoft platform, but it's passive-aggressive at best.

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