Now Smith has turned his thinking on such matters into a book, Tools and Weapons: The Promise and the Peril of the Digital Age, which he wrote with Microsoft director of communications and external affairs Carol Ann Browne.
Tools and Weapons is full of elements that Smith and Browne have previously examined in Microsoft on the Issues, a surprisingly thoughtful corporate blog that doesn’t just consist of the boilerplate stances you’d assume every giant technology company holds.
Smith ended up writing a Microsoft on the Issues post calling for governments to regulate the technology rather than relying on providers such as Microsoft to make the call on what’s appropriate.
Smith joined Microsoft in 1993, a year after Nadella, and spent 13 years as the company’s general counsel before becoming president.
Nadella’s emotional awareness has helped Microsoft find its way in challenging times, says Smith: “Leading a tech company at the end of this decade is completely different, culturally, from what it was like to lead a tech company when this decade began.
Though Microsoft’s leadership wasn’t convinced by the dissenting employees, Smith stresses that they still played a constructive role in the company’s thinking.
Though Tools and Weapons is Smith and Browne’s personal project rather than an official Microsoft manifesto, Smith’s role in shaping Microsoft’s philosophies is so central that there isn’t much daylight, if any, between his take and that of the company he helps lead.