Microsoft CEO: Office 365 growth opportunity 'a lot bigger than anything we've achieved'

  • At the Morgan Stanley TMT conference on Monday, Nadella spoke of opportunities in cloud productivity, along with the Azure public cloud infrastructure for hosting applications.
  • Nadella also talked about how the company's Power BI business intelligence service has grown recently.
Satya Nadella speaking at the 2016 World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland.
David A. Grogan | CNBC
Satya Nadella speaking at the 2016 World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland.

Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella on Monday suggested that Microsoft could grow more from its Office 365 line of cloud productivity apps than anything in the company's 43-year history.

With business editions of Office 365, Microsoft faces competition from Google, as well as younger players like Box and Dropbox, in the race to get companies collaborating in apps running on remote cloud servers.

"The growth opportunity for what is Office 365 is a lot bigger than anything we've achieved, even with our high penetration in the client-server world," Nadella said at the Morgan Stanley Technology Media and Telecom conference in San Francisco.

When companies transition from Microsoft's traditional licensing business to cloud-based subscriptions, it's "not a one-for-one move," Nadella told Morgan Stanley analyst Keith Weiss at the event. Microsoft recently introduced the Microsoft 365 bundle, which includes Office as well as Windows, along with enterprise security and mobility services.

Nadella also talked up the company's potential in the Azure public cloud infrastructure business, where it competes with Google as well as Amazon Web Services.

"We had a good business in our server business, but this business is orders of magnitude bigger than what used to be a successful server business," he said.

At the same time, Microsoft has also found rising revenue in the sale of cloud-based business intelligence software for charting and analyzing corporate data, with the Power BI product, which competes with Salesforce's Analytics Cloud and Tableau.

"We went from nowhere to being the leader in BI in the cloud," Nadella said. Microsoft expects Power BI to have a $500 million annualized billings run rate for its 2018 fiscal year, he said.

Plus, the Dynamics 365 offering, which includes a tool for managing relationships with customers, grew 70 percent in the most recent quarter, Nadella said.

Nadella took over from Steve Ballmer as the head of Microsoft four years ago.