February 6th, 2014 by Maria Minsker

It’s official: Steve Ballmer is out, and Satya Nadella is in.

Just five months after Ballmer announced that he would be retiring, Microsoft announced that the company has a new CEO lined up. Up to this point, Nadella has been a fairly low-key member of team Microsoft, but he’s no newbie. Nadella has deep roots at the company, and his home town of Hyderabad, India–nicknamed Cyberabad–is actually home to the largest Microsoft research and development operation outside the United States. What else do you need to know about future face of Microsoft? Read on.

1. Nadella Has an Engineering Background

Nadella received a bachelor’s degree in electronics and communication engineering from Manipal University back in India, and earned a master’s degree in computer science from the University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee. He also holds an MBA from the University of Chicago. Unlike Ballmer, who was an assistant product manager at Procter & Gamble prior to his gig at Microsoft, Nadella is definitely a tech guy. But that’s not to say that he can’t run a business. Nadella currently heads Windows Azure, Windows Server, SQL Server, System Center and other software-development tools–though non-consumer facing and out of the spotlight, these products are a big deal for Microsoft, and consistently deliver solid profits.

2. He’s a Microsoft Insider

Hired in 1992, Nadella has been with Microsoft for 22 years–that’s more than half the time the company has been in existence. When he initially came on board, he served as a vice president in the company’s business division and oversaw Microsoft Office. Later, he took over R&D for many of Microsoft’s online services  and eventually took over the entire Bing business. In February 2011, Nadella was named the head of Server and Tools and became one of five executives who report directly to Ballmer.

3. He’s Big on Cloud Computing

Nadella began overseeing Microsoft’s cloud platform in 2013. The platform, which serves as the infrastructure for Bing, Xbox Live, Office 365 and Windows Azure, has been one of the future CEO’s crowning achievements: during his tenure, Nadella put some major pressure on Amazon’s cloud by working to build up Azure, securing its spot as a serious competitor in the cloud space.

4. His Leadership Style is Nothing Like Ballmer’s

While Ballmer has earned the reputation of resident chair thrower, Nadella looks to be a much more mellow leader. “He is very inclusive. He brings people in and gets them excited to work on stuff, and that’s what I think his magic is — his authenticity and the way he is able to inspire people and not just push them,” Bill Hilf, who worked closely with Nadella as the product manager for Windows Azure, told Wired.com. “He can inspire them to do great work and get them motivated and excited. That’s really about him as a person: Whether he was running a technology company or a non-profit, he would have the same demeanor.” Unlike Ballmer, insiders say Nadella is a collaborator who gives direction, not orders.

5. His Focus Isn’t on Software

Though Nadella understands the value of software to Microsoft, it seems as though he wants to shift the focus (if only just a little) elsewhere. In a December interview with Quartz, Nadella said:

“I think reconceptualizing Microsoft as a devices and services company is absolutely what our vision is all about. Office 365 and Azure on the services side are representative of it. Does that mean we won’t have our software available for other people to build on? No. Windows is available outside of our devices. Windows server is available outside of our data centers. We think that’s important because there will always be distributed computing. But at the same time, there is also the customer expectations that we should complete the scenario. That means running a cloud platform, running a cloud service. So we’re conceptualizing the future of Microsoft along those pivots.”

So what does this mean for the future of other Microsoft software like, say, Dynamics CRM?  Chances are, despite his non-software centric vision, Nadella’s appointment as CEO could actually mean great things for Microsoft’s CRM solution. As it turns out, in 1999 Nadella led Microsoft’s bCentral group, a collective tasked with providing Internet services such as e-commerce and online marketing to small businesses, and after a slew of acquisitions and changes, bCentral evolved into Microsoft Dynamics. Though it would be a stretch to say Nadella has a soft spot for the off-shoot of his old project, his early connection to Dynamics could mean more interest and attention from the company at large.

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