You, Nick, are our resident Microsoft expert. Tell me everything, starting with why they seem to be on a roll lately.
Nick: One word: the cloud. Actually, that’s two words. The money they are making from it is now big enough ($5.9 billion) and growing fast enough that investors feel as if the company has a grip on one of the most important technology trends out there.
Mike: The cloud! I can’t say the cloud without yelling it feverishly. I don’t really know what it means other than servers and Amazon Web Services and Google.
Which, in my tiny mind, is something that makes me wonder whether Microsoft will be able to lock in that cloud power. What makes Microsoft better than Amazon — which has a booming business in A.W.S. — or Google, which also offers a bunch of cloud stuff?
Nick: Why is Microsoft better? I’m not sure they are, but there are some differences with Amazon. Microsoft says it is a “hybrid” cloud company. Customers can put all their stuff in Microsoft’s data centers, or if they’re just getting comfortable with the cloud, they can keep some of their data on their own premises. The choice with Amazon is more binary — you’re in their cloud, or you’re not.
Mike: Or something. I’m on board with that.
So what else? The Steve Ballmer era is over. Are you into this new guy they have running the company? And by new I mean “for the last 18 months.”