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Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella in the photo that accompanied his memo.

In certain circles, Microsoft memos are the stuff of legend. The seminal “Internet Tidal Wave” memo of 1995. The major “Trustworthy Computing” memo of 2002. The landmark “Shrimp & Weenies” memo of 1993.

Depending on how the next month goes, Satya Nadella’s “Bold Ambition & Our Core” memo of 2014 could claim its own place in Microsoft lore.

nadellapIn case you missed it, the Microsoft CEO on Thursday sent a 3,200-word message to the company’s employees, aiming to “synthesize the strategic direction and massive opportunity” facing the company.

The message provided a window into Nadella’s thinking after five months on the job, and the future direction of Microsoft under his leadership.

For starters, Nadella made it clear that the company would no longer be describing itself as a “devices and services company” — former Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer’s favorite phrase. Instead, it will be “the productivity and platform company for the mobile-first and cloud-first world.”

Yes, Microsofties, you have a new motto.

Bill Gates, Satya Nadella and Steve Ballmer.
Bill Gates, Satya Nadella and Steve Ballmer.

In basic terms, he’s saying that Microsoft will help create a world filled with intelligent technologies that work across the cloud and devices. These technologies will help people and businesses make better sense of data, bridge work and home life, and generally optimize our experience as human beings on this Earth.

That’s the gist, at least.

In this new world, “productivity” doesn’t just happen in an Excel spreadsheet. “We will shift the meaning of productivity beyond solely producing something to include empowering people with new insights,” Nadella promised.

But here’s the paragraph that will get a lot of attention as employees read it over.

“Nothing is off the table in how we think about shifting our culture to deliver on this core strategy. Organizations will change. Mergers and acquisitions will occur. Job responsibilities will evolve. New partnerships will be formed. Tired traditions will be questioned. Our priorities will be adjusted. New skills will be built. New ideas will be heard. New hires will be made. Processes will be simplified. And if you want to thrive at Microsoft and make a world impact, you and your team must add numerous more changes to this list that you will be enthusiastic about driving.”

That’s some giant stuff in there. And yes, it could very well mean job cuts, as Bloomberg reported. (Job cuts are expected as a result of the Nokia acquisition, at least.)

Nadella hinted again at this possibility in the memo with his promise to streamline the engineering process inside the company.

He promised additional information over the course of July, as he and the company’s senior leadership team “share more on the engineering and organization changes we believe are needed.”

Then there was this …

“Finally, every team across Microsoft must find ways to simplify and move faster, more efficiently. We will increase the fluidity of information and ideas by taking actions to flatten the organization and develop leaner business processes. Culture change means we will do things differently. Often people think that means everyone other than them. In reality, it means all of us taking a new approach and working together to make Microsoft better. To this end, I’ve asked each member of the Senior Leadership Team to evaluate opportunities to advance their innovation processes and simplify their operations and how they work. We will share more on this throughout July.”

Pass the shrimp and weenies — it’s going to be an interesting month in Redmond.

Previously: Nadella defends Xbox business, says console is key part of the family

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