Microsoft is back, but what can we expect in 2015?

MicrosoftMicrosoft will unveil Windows 10 next week, and the tech world will once again gravitate towards the company. It’s the company we love to hate. Great products? We haven’t seen much of that lately, though there were a few announcements and product releases in 2014. Blame it on the previous leadership if you will. But Satya Nadella is the man to watch in 2015.

In 2014 IT giant Microsoft announced its third CEO and this time it picked a person who was born outside the United States. Satya Nadella was elevated to the CEO post on Feb 4, 2014. He immediately got to work and made a lot of changes.

Nadella successfully transitioned Microsoft from a devices and services company to a platform and productivity company. Among the first products that Nadella announced was Office for iPad. Its Surface Pro 3 tablet sales doubled compared to a year ago. Microsoft’s Digital Assistant Cortana got good reviews. Windows Phone 8.1 put Microsoft back in the smart phone race. The Nokia brand was edged out and replaced by Lumia; many employees lost their jobs due to this merger. The Microsoft Lumia 830 showed the competition what Microsoft can do with smart phones, but the shortage of apps on Microsoft’s app store continues to be a damper. Microsoft also introduced Sway, its graphics rich, easy-to-use and affordable publishing environment.

Look out for Windows 10 (previewing next week), a new browser called Spartan, new versions of the Surface Pro tablet, a wrist assistant called Microsoft Band, and other great innovations from Microsoft in 2015.

Meanwhile, you may want to read this story I found on Business Insider.

 

Are you self-learning like Satya Nadella?

Satya“I buy more books than I can finish. I sign up for more online courses than I can complete. I fundamentally believe that if you are not learning new things, you stop doing great and useful things. I’m a life-long learner”

Satya Nadella, CEO, Microsoft

I was thrilled to read the news about the appointment of Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella. And I read this news  late at night, on my mobile phone, and again next morning in the newspaper. 

The thing about Nadella is that he is in a process of continual learning, always driving himself to learn new things. And that’s what keeps the mind sharp. So you should be a learner for life.

Today’s generation is lucky to have a plethora of learning resources at its disposal. And these are not limited to the confines of a library or classroom. There are plenty of free and paid online courses. Let me talk about my own experiences.

While  studying Digital Marketing at NIIT last year, I was often referred to certain videos on YouTube. In fact, I learned a great deal about Google Analytics on YouTube! I have to say that YouTube is one of the best online learning resources, that offers the shortest learning curve. On YouTube there are videos that teach you how to fix or build things. There are videos that show how to design websites, repair PCs, debug software, learn programming techniques, and there are numerous other topics ranging from photography & gardening to leadership & management.

Watch a 10 minute video on YouTube — or read a 200 page Dummies book to learn the same thing. What would you prefer?

While YouTube is a free resource, you shouldn’t dismiss paid resources, which have really good tutorials on a variety of subjects. A good one that I recently discovered is Lynda.com. For a flat monthly fee of $25 (approximately Rs 1,500), you get access to unlimited courses — all you can eat for a flat price. And the fee is settled through your credit card; you can cancel the charge from the next billing cycle. And Lynda.com has an app too, so you can log in using any device, from anywhere and pick up where you last stopped. I’m currently using Lynda.com to hone my WordPress skills. But I’ve also bookmarked courses on digital photography, photo & video editing — which I’ll complete sooner or later.

If you want industry recognized certification, try Skillsoft.com. They offer Cisco, Microsoft and other certifications. Read my interview with Skillsoft VP John Ambrose here.

Another good (free) resource for courses is Coursera.org. But I must forewarn you that they offer more academically-oriented courses from various universities. So if you want to brush up your statistics, calculus, engineering, language, history, chemistry etc, Coursera’s the place to learn online. However, they also offer courses for other topics such as songwriting, music production, Equine nutrition, gamification, decision-making, and courses in other diverse categories. The great thing about Coursera is that these courses come from reputed universities and are backed by certifications.

Also try out Khan Academy.

If you don’t have time for an online course and just want reference material that quickly explains a concept, then look up sites like About.com, Wikihow.com, eHow.com,  Howstuffworks.com and of course, the mother of them all — Wikipedia.org. And then, there are specialized sites like Dictionary.com, Thesaurus.com and Grammarly.com.

I haven’t talked about books so far, but these days you have plenty of resources for e-books online. Apart from Amazon.com (and the Kindles) you could also look up Project Gutenberg.

In these times when jobs are hard to come by, the best thing you could do for yourself, is to learn something new each day. Why wait for instructor-led training (offered by your company) when you can learn by yourself, at your own pace?

Go online and sign up now!