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Why Microsoft Is Moving Away from Its Windows-Centric Strategy

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Nov. 20 2020, Updated 3:32 p.m. ET

Microsoft Windows replaced by server and cloud offerings

So far in the series, we’ve discussed the impact of Microsoft’s (MSFT) recent announcement of making its SQL Server available on Linux. Let’s understand why Microsoft let go of its Windows-centric strategy and showed keenness in supporting Linux.

Windows OEM Pro, which is part of Microsoft’s More Personal Computing segment, derives its revenue from the business PC market. According to the International Data Corporation, 2015 was the first time since 2008 that global PC shipments fell below 300 million units. According to Statista, “Worldwide PC shipments hit an eight-year low in 2015 after declining for the fourth consecutive year.” Continued sluggishness in the PC market impacted Windows’ revenues.

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Though Windows continues to be the most popular desktop operating system, the falling popularity of desktops has added to its woes. The above chart shows the contribution of various products toward Microsoft’s overall revenues in fiscal 2015. The top position, once enjoyed by Windows as Microsoft’s core product, is now inhabited by Microsoft’s Office, cloud, and server products. There’s no question as to why Microsoft is so keen on Linux.

Microsoft is moving ahead of its Windows-focused strategy

In late October 2015, Mark Russinovich, chief technical officer of Microsoft Azure, stated, “It’s obvious, if we don’t support Linux, we’ll be Windows only and that’s not practical.” In a world of diverse operating systems, Microsoft has learned that it’s best to listen and act according to changing customer requirements.

Bringing Linux into Azure cloud as well as providing Office 365 on Apple’s (AAPL) iOS and Google’s (GOOG) (GOOGL) Android is the company’s strategy to expand its reach. Moreover, bringing SQL Server to Linux will enable Azure on to run on Amazon’s (AMZN) Amazon Web Services, which is a public cloud and mainly Linux-based.

You might consider investing in the iShares Russell 1000 Growth ETF (IWF) to gain exposure to Microsoft. IWF has ~13% exposure to application software and invests ~2.4% of its holdings in Microsoft.

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