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.

  • benjitek

    They should probably put a fire under whoever’s working on a touch-based Modern-UI version for Windows 8. Releasing an iOS version first was a slap in the face to Windows 8 users, especially early adopters of the Surface/Surface Pro devices. If anything, the versions should have been released simultaneously, or at least a release date announced.

    It may be a quick-buck for Microsoft to get an iOS version out, but the longterm effects to Windows in general might have the OS as a whole joining the ranks of WindowsPhone into irrelevance :-(

    • LexicoRed

      It has already hit the level of irrelevance but that does not reflect unprofitability. This is the reason Nadella did what he did. Unlike Ballmer who work under the illusion the Windows was future, Nadella knows that fight is over and is working on the next fight; the Cloud.

      But for what it’s worth touch for Windows will be revealed next week at the Build Conference. They revealed iOS first so Nadella could show he making a break from Ballmer and knowing if they did it at the Build Conference it would distract from any other news coming out if it.

      • benjitek

        As much as you’d like to credit the new-guy (Nadella) — this was far from being his doing. These plans were in motion far before his new job title. Thanks though for stopping by 😉

        • LexicoRed

          Your right it was finished about 2 years ago but Ballmer kept it from shipping. He hoped it would help give Surface (and other W8) market advantage. It did not work iPad sales kept growing while Surface underwhelmed.

          Nadella made the correct decision to move beyond the Ballmer policy for the long term good of the company.

          • benjitek

            It was already going to take place, he just happened to be the one to announce it.

          • LexicoRed

            Yes you are correct, he was the one announced it, the wheels was in motion as soon as the Board “encourage” Ballmer’s “earlier retirement”. It was one of the reason Nadella got the CEO job because he agrees with a new direction of Software and Services priority!

          • benjitek

            Had Ballmer still been in place, he would’ve made the exact same announcement at the exact same time 😉

          • LexicoRed

            Yes the board was pushing for it but that is why Ballmer got the pushed out , in fact the board wanted it done sooner but Ballmer delayed it even more until new CEO so he could say I “told them so” if it turn out bad.

            But it won’t. This is Microsoft giving up on world domination for future relevancy.

          • benjitek

            Theories and opinions are fun 😉 LOL

          • HTk_Joe

            Great insight, thanks for post

    • jimski27

      Yeah, but pretty much all Windows tablet devices have Office included. Maybe not touch centric, but its still Office. Couldn’t say the same for iPad, Android tablet owners until this week.

      Personally, I am not looking forward to Modern Office on my 8″ keyboardless Windows tablet, although I assume some will.

      • benjitek

        Surface RT/Surface 2 tablets do, not Surface Pro. There’s a shortcut to install it on new full Windows 8.x tablets, but it’s not ‘included’. Even so, it’s definitely no touch — mouse required, especially if you want to work with Excel.

      • Bugbog

        Haven’t bothered installing it on my DV8P. As long as it is announced this week (as part of the 8.1 Update) then I’m not really bothered and it will quell the noise-makers.

  • Bugbog

    As long as Office is Ubiquitous, then it will remain relevant and habitual.