Nadella let the people behind the new OS and the other innovations unveiled at the event have the spotlight, but his fingerprints were all over the entire presentation. Windows 10 is physical representation of the CEO's vision for the company. It's an operating system that delivers on some of the promises Nadella made in a July 2014 email to employees.
Across Microsoft, we will obsess over reinventing productivity and platforms. We will relentlessly focus on and build great digital work and life experiences with specific focus on dual use. Our cloud OS infrastructure, device OS and first-party hardware will all build around this core focus and enable broad ecosystems. Microsoft will light up digital work and life experiences in the most personal, intelligent, open and empowering ways.
Windows 10 -- as presented at the event -- provides the foundation for all of that. And when Nadella finally took the stage, he elaborated on how he expects the product to drive the company.
Nadella sees Windows 10 creating new categories
"Our industry's progress is punctuated by moments of category creation. Windows 10 and holographic computing is one such moment," he said as he took the stage immediately after his company's new HoloLens technology was introduced.
HoloLens, a new hologram-based environment, was introduced as part of the Windows event because Nadella sees it as just another device -- albeit a really cool one -- running the OS. Just as one Windows will run PCs, tablets, and phones, there is one Windows at the base of HoloLens, even if that tech can be used to immerse you in World War II for a gaming experience from your living room.
"Windows is the home for the very best Microsoft experiences," Nadella said.
Windows 10 brings new opportunities
While Windows has always been a computer operating system, and has more recently been used on tablets, Nadella sees a future in which it powers all sorts of electronics.
"Windows 10 is built for a world where everything, or nearly everything -- both at home at work -- is digitally mediated, he said.
He said the new OS enables interactions "in the most natural of ways," including speech, touch, and the more fantastical methods made possible by HoloLens. Nadella also said Windows 10 has been engineered for a world that will have more devices than it does people.
That explosion of devices tied to the Internet of Things creates an opportunity for Windows 10 that did not exist previously.
This time, it's personal
Nadella said Windows 10 would allow users to not only consume information, but to create and use it.
"You're generating data about yourself, about your environment, and you want to be able to reason over all of that," he explained. "Windows 10 ushers in a more personal era of computing in a mobile first, cloud first world."
Nadella said Windows 10 was built around knowing you personally. As examples, he cited personal assistant Cortana's ability to learn about you and the features of the new Spartan browser.
"These are the experiences of Windows 10 that more personal computing environment that people are going to love," he said.
Windows 10 shows the company's ambition
"The fact that there are 1.5 billion users of Windows is incredible and humbling. It's a responsibility that none of us at Microsoft take lightly," Nadella said. "But we have higher hopes, bigger aspirations for Windows."
The CEO said the company wants to move from people "needing Windows to people choosing Windows to people loving Windows."
Even wanting to accomplish that shows Nadella understands how his brand is perceived in a way his predecessor, Steve Ballmer, did not. People love Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) products, which drives loyalty. Microsoft, which had a near-monopoly in the PC operating system market for years, was always a necessary evil -- a company that makes useful things, but not products that inspire an emotion as deep as love.
That lack of love became apparent when iPads, Google (NASDAQ:GOOG) (NASDAQ:GOOGL) Chromebooks, and Android devices gave people an opportunity to leave Microsoft. Many did, but Microsoft kept operating as if people still needed them.
Getting people to like Windows seems possible, while getting them to love it will require transformative experiences that Windows 10 appears to be reaching for. That does not guarantee that two years from now you'll be holding holographic meetings or playing games in an immersive virtual world, but Nadella has at least set the bar that high.