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Photo illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios. Photos: Microsoft, Toby Scott/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

If software developers don't see Microsoft as the coolest trillion-dollar tech company out there, CEO Satya Nadella is OK with that, he told Axios in an exclusive interview as Microsoft's annual developer conference kicked off Tuesday.

Driving the news: "My sales pitch to anybody, whether it’s an intern or a college grad joining Microsoft is, hey, if you want to be cool, go join someone else," Nadella said. "If you want to make others cool, join Microsoft."

Why it matters: With Windows less dominant, and Microsoft having given up on its own smartphone platform, the company is trying to woo developers by embracing rivals' platforms, offering tools that can write programs that run just about anywhere.

While Apple, Google and Facebook typically spend a lot of their developer conferences focused on their own products, Microsoft used this week's Build event to focus almost entirely on a bunch of under-the-hood changes that Nadella says will help other companies succeed.

  • "In fact, you could be building an iOS app or an Android app, or an app for (Google's Cloud) or AWS, and still, you’ll want to come to a Microsoft developer conference," Nadella told Axios.

Between the lines: Tech giants have always competed for the attention, enthusiasm and labor of independent software makers.

  • Former Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer used to run around on stage yelling "Developers, developers, developers!"
  • Nadella says coders remain just as important to today's Microsoft, but he prefers to show his appreciation in other ways.

Rather than promoting Microsoft's own image, Nadella aims to paint coders themselves as cool. He has characteried them as "the original creators" and points to Microsoft's transformation of GitHub into a service where programmers can not only share their code, but also get paid.

  • "The sponsorship program on GitHub is the biggest program for essentially tipping software developers in the open source community," Nadella said. "We have lots of plans to expand that. You can even have organizations supporting our open source projects."

Yes, but: One area where Microsoft badly could use some cool points is with Windows, its 35-year-old operating system.

  • Nadella teased a significant update to Windows, noting during his keynote that he has been testing it in recent months.
  • He declined to share any further details, but did say he thinks Windows is exiting the pandemic stronger than it was coming in, as many people rediscovered the power of a PC.

Context: A number of Microsoft's efforts to modernize Windows have stumbled, including the recently shelved Windows 10X — the company's latest attempt to create a slimmed-down OS to better compete against Chrome OS and other mobile devices.

The big picture: Nadella notes that more software programmers are being hired today in traditional companies than in technology businesses.

  • "It’s not about the West Coast of the U.S. or the East Coast of China, but pretty much every company in the world, in every sector," Nadella said

Go deeper

Microsoft sets up nonprofit to cut software-related carbon emissions

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Microsoft announced on Tuesday that it is teaming up with Github, Accenture and Thoughtworks to establish a nonprofit aimed at cutting emissions across the software industry.

Why it matters: Software is an overlooked factor partly responsible for driving up carbon emissions from the tech sector. Companies that develop software used across the IT industry, including Microsoft, need to address this in order to fulfill their own ambitious climate goals.

Services push makes Apple a target

Expand chart
Data: Company earnings reports; Chart: Danielle Alberti/Axios

Apple's successful long-term effort to generate new revenue from the services that run on top of iPhones and Macs is also carving out new vulnerabilities for the giant — including antitrust charges, lawsuits by developers and new conflicts over privacy and content moderation.

Why it matters: Apple has been relatively unscathed by the criticisms that dog Facebook, Google and Amazon, but the more cash it squeezes out of its App Store and other services, the more of a target it will become.

Updated 50 mins ago - Health

White House acknowledges U.S. will miss July 4 vaccination goal

Fireworks in New York City to celebrate the state reaching a 70% vaccination rate. Photo: Liao Pan/China News Service via Getty Images

The Biden administration acknowledged on Tuesday that it will likely miss its goal of vaccinating 70% of U.S. adults with at least one dose by July 4.

Why it matters: Despite falling short of the goal, the White House still believes most Americans will be safe to fully celebrate Independence Day, as COVID-19 cases and deaths remain at low levels throughout much of the country.