I just finished reading Hit Refresh by Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella, so I might as well share some views of it with the 3 people who may actually read this blog. Overall, the book provides some insight into how Mr. Nadella thinks, and how that has shaped the “new Microsoft” that nerds have talked about over the past couple of years. You also get the gist of where Microsoft is heading in terms of new technologies, like the Hololens, which is pretty neat to think about.
On the good side, I loved the background on how Satya grew up and climbed up to the top at MS. It’s pretty amazing to think of a kid in India someday making it all the way to the level he’s made it, and, though things may be different in real life, he certainly doesn’t come across as your stereotypical CEO asshole. He talks a lot about empathy and how having empathy changes your view of what technology can and should do for people. He’s definitley on point there. Empathy is a common thread throughout the book, and clearly in his thinking. Empathy helps him decide what new tech to follow, and how things like artificial intelligence need to work to make people’s lives better. He also talks about it in terms of the Hololens, how the hope is someday that it will help doctors around the world do amazing things for people that were never thought of as possible before. Heady stuff…
Something else that jumped at me is his willingness to partner with other companies in ways that would’ve been taboo under any other CEO. You can actually see it happening in 2017 on several fronts. Microsoft has worked closely with Canonical to make the Windows Subsystem for Linux available on Windows 10. MS has hired a wealth of open source talent to improve the Azure experience for Linux users. Just a week or two ago, MS even teamed up with Amazon to make Alexa and Cortana work better together. These are actual competitors, and not just in some small way…these are two of the biggest players on the field!
All this said, the book started feeling long in the tooth in the later chapters. Maybe it’s just my attention span, or maybe I had just gotten the gist already and didn’t need more information. I wish there was more about how Microsoft is transforming and less about the technologies for the future. I found myself scanning the last few chapters with lot less attention to detail than the first several.
Go get a copy of this book and read it. Quite informative and it has some really cool insights in it. There’s a long reading list in the bibliography that would make for some great additional reading. Maybe I’ll get to that someday….