Nadella, who took over from Steve Ballmer in February 2014, has been moving to make Microsoft more relevant in the new tech world led by mobile-focused rivals such as Apple and Google. Microsoft, which can no longer rest on its PC dominance with its Windows operating system, has taken a page from the playbook of the late Steve Jobs at Apple -- providing software like Office for free on rival devices like the iPad and Android-powered tablets.
Nadella also managed to surprise and wow people with Microsoft's HoloLens goggles, delivering holograms and hitting a sweet spot between Google Glass and virtual reality headgear. "He hasn't solved all problems, but he's made moves in the right direction strategically," said J.P. Gownder, analyst at Forrester Research.
Even though many of the new things unveiled were in the works for years, Nadella appears to have injected new energy into the Redmond, Washington-based tech powerhouse. Gownder said it was "a wise move" to bring popular Microsoft programs like Word, Excel and PowerPoint to Android and Apple devices, because Windows has been slow to gain traction in the mobile universe.
"When you have software, you have to run that software where the customers are," instead of using it as "a weapon" in a war of operating systems, he said. In a move aimed at reaching a younger tech user base, Microsoft agreed in September to buy the Swedish group behind the hugely popular video game "Minecraft" for $2.5 billion, bolstering its gaming division.
The deal for Mojang gives Microsoft one of the best-known video games of all time -- one which is played on game consoles as well as PCs and mobile devices. "Microsoft is a different company now. Microsoft is not making stupid mistakes," said Trip Chowdhry, at Global Equities Research.
"This year is more of a reinvention and restrategizing year. 2015 will be when the company may have some progress on initiatives like mobile and cloud." Nadella has made some missteps, notably in comments suggesting working women should trust "karma" when it comes to securing pay raises, but quickly moved to back away from the controversy.