Johannesburg - The move to mobile devices like tablets has forced companies that make traditional software to change their strategy.
"The way we consumed software in the past has changed. That model is fundamentally changing into a cloud model," Microsoft SA managing director Mteto Nyati told News24.
The company released its latest version of the Windows operating system and the focus has shifted from a desktop environment to one based in the internet cloud.
Apple has made successful use of the ecosystem strategy to tie users in to the environment hardware and software platforms.
It is a strategy that Microsoft initially shunned, preferring instead to partner with hardware manufacturers and providing the operating system and other software.
Recently though, the US-based company has built its Surface tablet as it seeks a greater share of the mobile computing market, currently dominated by Apple.
"These are trends that are not designed by Microsoft but these are trends that happen whether we like it or not.
"The question that we always ask is: 'How can we leverage a particular trend?' What we’re seeing is that design matters and that design commands margins," said Nyati.
He said that Microsoft's role as a software was changing, but dismissed suggestions that it was hurting the company's traditional partners.
"If you've got the ability to develop great software and you can combine that with great hardware, you are able to do great things."
Samsung launched the Ativ tablet with the Windows operating system in a departure from its Android strategy on mobile devices and it is expected that Microsoft will launch the Surface in SA.
The Redmond, Washington-based company insists that it is giving hardware partners the chance to innovate on the Windows 8 platform as it looks to build an alternative ecosystem to Google's Android mobile OS that powers the majority of smart devices.
"If it is changing into a cloud model, what does it do to Microsoft? We need to change with the times; people will be buying a service, rather than buying software," Nyati said.
He added that Microsoft was determined to gain the foothold in the market, despite a relative newcomer.
"We have to change; we have to be the guys that are able to provide those services and make sure that the devices that they are using to consume those services are our devices."