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商业 - 科技

微软新CEO纳德拉爱说大实话

Adam Lashinsky 2014年06月04日

微软新任CEO在公开场合回答微软为什么选择在iPad上发布全触屏版的微软Office软件、而不是选择自家的Surface平板时,他说因为微软希望确保这款产品登陆市场份额最大的平台,希望它有人用。

    微软新任CEO萨蒂亚•纳德拉

    记者迈克尔•金斯利曾有一句著名的论断,他说,政客的失态就是“说了实话——而且是一些不该说的大实话。”这句话现在可以套在微软(Microsoft)新任CEO萨蒂亚•纳德拉的头上了。如今的人们难得从公众人物口中听到一句大实话,但纳德拉在回答问题时“不走寻常路”地坦率和真诚颇有些特立独行。

    比如在上周二晚上的一次行业会议上,当被问到微软为什么选择在iPad上发布全触屏版的微软Office软件而不是选择自家的Surface平板时,纳德拉坦率地承认:“我们想确保把全触屏版的Office软件发布在市场份额最大的平台上。”

    这句话之所以让人惊讶,只是因为它代表微软终于不再沉醉于过去的辉煌。微软当然需要把自家软件放在iPad上,毕竟iPad在平板电脑市场上的领军地位无人可及。实际上,令人费解的是,微软为什么花了这么多时间才想明白这个问题。亚马逊(Amazon)早就明白了把Kindle应用放在iPad上的重要性。另外早在几年以前,苹果(Apple)就明白了发布一款兼容微软Windows系统的iTunes有多重要。虽然iTunes是专门为Mac系统开发的,但Mac电脑的份额还是远远比不上安装Windows系统的电脑,因此苹果选择了“跟着用户走”的战略。

    纳德拉并不是要放弃微软的自家设备。他表示,微软的软件需要在所有设备上都能工作,当然也包括他们自己的设备。不过他也说:“我们希望的是我们的软件有人用。”

    纳德拉在其它一些领域的问题上也说过一些实话。在这场于加州派洛斯福德庄举办的行业会议上,经验丰富的记者沃特•莫斯伯格和卡拉•斯威舍轮番发问,从纳德拉口中榨出了不少“干货”。纳德拉表示,微软之所以生产硬件设备是为了建立需求,而不是因为它想当一个设备制造商。他的用词也非常有意思:“软件是最有可塑性的资源,为了参与到‘打猎’中,你就需要制造硬件。需要全力参与进去。”他也丝毫没有掩饰微软及其合作厂商相对于苹果的失败。他指出:“PC生态系统需要新的创新。”他认为微软需要创造出“下一个新产品。”这是个很高的要求,不过算是一个很好的目标。

    不过纳德拉没有透露微软下一步有哪些战略举措。但他为微软在搜索方面所做的努力以及最近完成的收购诺基亚(Nokia)的案子做了辩解。他把搜索称为一项“核心技术”,把收购诺基亚称为“达到目的的一种手段”,也就是通过收购一个大型设备厂商,在移动软件领域建立一个立足点。另外他还公布了一款叫做“Skype翻译”的产品。两个不同国家的用户通过Skype服务互相用母语打电话时,他们的对话会自动经过电脑翻译向对方大声念出来。(现场展示用的是英语和德语。)

    纳德拉的个人风格可以说与他的前任史蒂夫•鲍尔默截然相反。纳德拉在会上也讲述了自己的人生经历。他的三个孩子有两个患有残疾,其中一个患有四肢瘫痪。纳德拉表示,他一直都在努力寻找工作和家庭的平衡。纳德拉小时候是家里唯一的孩子,父亲是位经济学家,母亲是文学教授,但是他们并没有强迫纳德纳必须获得什么学业上或职业上的成就,这一点也和同时代的许多印裔中产阶级家庭的父母截然不同。

    虽然纳德拉爱说实话,但有时也难免说出一些企业高管惯用的陈词滥调,甚至是违心的话。比如当问到如何看待微软最新版的Surface平板时,他称其为一款“有希望”的产品,一般人们都用这个词来描述一款还没有取得成功的产品。当被问到如何看待谷歌的优势和劣势时,纳德拉也像其他CEO一样打起了官腔:“我不了解谷歌的优势和劣势,因为我不去考虑这个问题。”这一点很难让人相信,甚至让人感觉他是在撒谎。不过,毕竟人无完人。

    谷歌(Google)共同创始人谢尔盖•布林上台接受采访时,对谷歌的优势和劣势也没有讲太多。布林解释了自己在谷歌公司的角色——既是董事会成员,又是CEO拉里•佩奇的哥们儿,同时也是谷歌最神秘的部门——Google X实验室的负责人。Google X是一个相对较小的研发团体,主要负责研发像谷歌眼镜、无人驾驶汽车和能为地面覆盖无线网络信号的高空气球等“高大上”的前沿项目。他由衷说,自己很高兴能把管理这样一家大公司的所有麻烦事都丢给拉里•佩奇。

    对布林的访谈虽然主要围绕着自动驾驶汽车,不过也有一些闲聊的意味,布林在漫谈中不时抛出一些有意思的猛料。比如谷歌X确切地说有8个正在进行的项目,布林讨论了其中的四个项目。不过他表示,在现有的某个项目“毕业”之前,暂时不会上马新项目了。他还表示,谷歌目前有一支“接近1000人”的团队专门在搞网络安全问题。另外他还说,谷歌计划制造100到200辆无人驾驶汽车,而且目前谷歌正在与底特律、加州和德国的一些厂商展开合作。他坦率地说,关于无人驾驶汽车的“商业问题”还是留到将来的某一天再来讨论为好,这是一种“谷歌式”的官腔,但总体上还是可以相信的。

    布林在采访中还戴了一会儿谷歌眼镜。对于这款产品的争议,也就是有媒体称只有那些“技术宅”才会在公共场合戴这样一款电脑眼镜的说法,布林表示很不以为然。不过谷歌显然知道这款眼镜是一款有争议的产品。比如有一名观众就提问道,谷歌眼镜是否能加入面部识别功能,帮助用户确认眼前的人的身份——这个功能对于这样一次很多人参加的大会来说,的确是一个非常有吸引力的功能。布林说:“我们要求眼镜加工厂商不要在眼镜中加入面部识别功能。现在社会就这个问题还没形成统一的意见。”

    这个晚上就这样以更多的实话结束了。它是否会成为一种趋势呢?(财富中文网)

    译者:朴成奎

    Journalist Michael Kinsley famously defined a political gaffe as "when a politician tells the truth -- some obvious truth he isn't supposed to say." Satya Nadella, Microsoft's (MSFT) neophyte CEO, might just be giving truth-telling by public figures a good name by turning Kinsley's dictum on its head. Nadella is developing a specialty in the highly unusual practice of answering questions directly and truthfully.

    A case in point: Asked at an industry conference Tuesday night why Microsoft has issued a touch-enabled version of Microsoft Office for the iPad but not yet for Microsoft's own Surface tablet, Nadella chose candor. "We wanted to make sure we have full-touch Office on the platform with the most market share," he said.

    That statement is startling only because of the departure it represents from Microsoft's past. Of course Microsoft needs to be on the iPad, far and away the tablet market leader. In fact, it raises the question of what took Microsoft so long. Amazon (AMZN), for instance, understands the importance of its Kindle app on the iPad. Years ago, Apple figured out how critical it was to produce a version of iTunes for Microsoft's Windows operating software. iTunes may have been created for the Macintosh, but the Mac's share was tiny compared to Windows-enabled PCs. So Apple (AAPL) went where the users were.

    Nadella isn't for abandoning Microsoft's devices. He said Microsoft's software needs to work on all devices, including its own. But, he said, "we want to get usage."

    Nadella spoke some truth in other areas as well. Grilled by veteran journalists Walt Mossberg and Kara Swisher at the new version of their old industry event in Rancho Palos Verdes, Calif., Nadella said Microsoft builds devices to help create demand -- not because it wants to be a device manufacturer. "Software is the most malleable resource," he said, an interesting word choice. "In order to be in the hunt you need to build devices. You need to be all in." He also didn't mince words on the failures of Microsoft and its partners compared with Apple. "The PC ecosystem needs new innovation," he said. In fact, he thinks Microsoft needs to build the "next new thing." That's a tall order, but a good aspiration.

    The Microsoft CEO revealed no new strategic initiatives. He defended Microsoft's commitment to search and to its recently completed acquisition of Nokia, calling the first core technology and the latter a "means to an end," namely a toehold in mobile software through ownership of a big device maker. He unveiled a nifty product called Skype Translate that enables callers on the Microsoft-owned Skype service to speak to each other in their native language and have their dialogue translated by a computer and spoken out loud. (The demo was conducted in English and German.)

    The CEO, whose demeanor is the polar opposite of his predecessor, Steve Ballmer, spent some time telling his personal story. Two of his three children have special needs, he said, one being a quadriplegic. He said he struggles all the time with work-life balance. An only child, Nadella credited his economist father and literature-professor mother with not pressuring him to succeed academically and professionally, an unusual posture for middle-class Indian parents of his time, he said.

    A truth-teller though he may be, Nadella isn't above the occasional chief-executive-level platitude -- or outright whopper. Asked to assess the latest Surface tablet, he called it "promising," acknowledging that that's what you call a product that hasn't succeeded yet. On the subject of assessing Google, Nadella sounded like his peers in CEO-land. "I don't know what Google's strengths and weaknesses are because I don't think about that," he said. That one is tough to believe, and one almost hopes he's fibbing in this case. Nobody's perfect.

    Google co-founder Sergey Brin didn't add much to the conversation about Google's strengths and weaknesses in his onstage interview. Brin explained his curious status as board member, pal of CEO Larry Page and head of Google X, the company's "moonshot" arm. In effect, he runs the relatively small research group -- responsible for such initiatives as Google Glass, self-driving cars and high-altitude balloons for delivering Internet access -- and not much else. He said, quite credibly, that he's happy to leave all the headaches of running a giant company to Page.

    Brin let loose quite a handful of interesting nuggets during a rambling and often unfocused interview dominated by a discussion of self-driving cars. Google X has precisely eight projects, four of which Brin discussed, and he won't allow new ones until a current member of the class "graduates." He said the company has a group that is "approaching 1,000 people" working on Internet security. He said the company plans to build 100 to 200 self-driving cars and is working with automotive suppliers in the Detroit area, Germany and California. He quite candidly said "business questions" about driverless cars would be left for another day, a rather Googley and altogether believable assertion.

    Brin wore a version of Google Glass for a portion of the interview, and he pooh-poohed the controversy over the product, namely the meme in the media that only an obnoxious techie would wear the computerized spectacles in public. At the same time, Google knows it has a potentially contentious product on its hands. A member of the audience asked if Google glass could use facial recognition to help a user identify someone they are talking to -- a particularly alluring feature at an industry conference. "We've asked glass wear manufacturers not to put facial recognition in Glass," Brin said. "Society is still formulating its opinion on that."

    Thus ended an evening with yet more truth-telling. Could it be a trend?

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