Microsoft Executive Qi Lu Talks About Future Of Office, Wants Office To be A Habit For Next Generation

Before Microsoft Qi Lu was best known for leading Yahoo’s search efforts.  After his departure from the company in 2008, Lu was personally recruited by Ballmer to join the Redmond software giant. Lu was instrumental in creating the search alliance partnership with Yahoo and the launch of the rebranded Bing.   Lu is known as an atypical executive often found wearing jeans, a t-shirt, and sandals with socks.

With Ballmer’s reorganization plan Lu was promoted from President of the online services division to executive vice president of Microsoft’s Applications and Services Group.   This expanded Lu’s responsibilities, in addition to Bing & Advertising he now oversees Microsoft Office, Office 365, SharePoint, Exchange, Yammer, Lync, Skype.

With the recent announcement of Office for the iPad, Recode interviewed Qi Lu. When asked about the top problems they are facing right now, Lu replied that their main focus is now on  deliver experiences and scenarios that enable individual end users or organizations to get more done. To build this experience, they are building modern endpoints. He refers the apps on all platforms as endpoints, the endpoints can be tablets, can be phones, can be other types of devices. Recently, Microsoft released Office for iPad app solving the touch based endpoint on Apple’s platform. He confirmed that they are working on a new version of Office for Mac as well. He wants Office to be a habit for people around the world to do something productive.

We want Office to be a habit. Anytime you are a student thinking about writing something, think about using Office to author documents. Anytime you see a rich document, you think Office.

How do we carry that into a fundamentally different environment from where we grew up with mice and keyboards? I can tell you that’s definitely not easy. There are so many different ways you can go.

The second part is moving to the cloud. That’s also a massive undertaking.

You talked about Office being a habit. Is it fair to say there is a generation of workers where it is not yet a habit?

This world is changing. It’s driven by cloud and mobile devices, certainly a new generation coming to embrace those devices. They many not necessarily have been exposed [to Office].

If you look at industry numbers, within the next 12 months or so around the world, over two billion people will be using cloud-connected mobile devices, whether phones or tablets. Those people may not necessarily have used Office before. We view that as a really good opportunity for Microsoft.

Historically, Microsoft has had one team developing Office for the PC and then a smaller Mac team developing Office for Mac. Things have quietly changed behind the scenes. Talk about developing Office for all these different devices.

The new world is technologically more complex — ours, Mac and Android, then we have the Web. You have many platforms to deal with. For Windows alone, we have two, [traditional Windows and Windows 8].

Our philosophy is always, we want to take full advantage of what each platform provides to you and build experiences that are truly compelling.

At the same time we want to share as much code as we can. Without sharing code, the fundamental agility won’t be there. Anytime you want to add a feature you would have to go back to all these code bases.


Read the full interview at Recode.

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