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STATE OF PLAY

A complete guide to Microsoft’s comeback

Ana Kova for Quartz
  • Dave Gershgorn
By Dave Gershgorn

Artificial intelligence reporter

In 1993, Satya Nadella—then a technical marketing manager—sat in front of a camera for a broadcast about how developers could use Microsoft server products.

The broadcast itself is a relic of its time: developers could call into a live hotline to inquire about Microsoft products (this was before customer support chatbots), Nadella chunked out code on a mechanical keyboard in front of an old CRT screen, and what we call servers today were still lovingly referred to as mainframes. The topic Nadella was talking about, wedged in the middle of the three-hour-long affair, was seemingly mundane: How to make custom inventory software using Excel and a local server.

Missing from the broadcast was any sign that Nadella would, 21 years later, become Microsoft’s CEO, or that the objective of this decades-old video—making it easy for companies to embed Microsoft into their most crucial processes—would become the bedrock of Microsoft’s success today.

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