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Microsoft CEO Nadella wants to help the world 'to achieve more'

Chief Executive Satya Nadella issues a far-reaching mission statement to employees, and doesn't stint on ambition.

Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella warns of "tough choices" ahead for the software maker. Getty Images

Microsoft has a new mission statement that goes straight to the point.

The software maker's new official goal is "to empower every person and every organization on the planet to achieve more," CEO Satya Nadella wrote in an email to employees. The message was first obtained by GeekWire on Thursday, and Microsoft confirmed its authenticity to CNET News.

Former CEO Steve Ballmer revised Microsoft's mission statement in October 2013 so it called on the company to "create a family of devices and services for individuals and businesses that empower people around the globe at home, at work and on the go, for the activities they value most." It didn't have quite the same zing as Nadella's does now.

Nadella's philosophy builds on, but doesn't erase, a few other Microsoft marketing mantras he's touted since taking charge in February 2014. For instance, "more personal computing" is still very much alive -- that's Microsoft's way of admitting that people use all sorts of devices connected together over the Internet. Focusing on that phenomenon is one of the core strategies Nadella says will help the company become the major player in the "mobile-first, cloud-first" world. Indeed, "mobile-first, cloud-first" is another favorite for Microsoft executives, who are looking to the company's fast-growing cloud services division to help sell software.

Microsoft is preparing for the July 29 release of the Windows 10 operating system, which powers more than 90 percent of the world's PCs. Most Windows users will be able to upgrade to the new version for free. With Microsoft 10, developers will be able to write "universal" apps once, which can then run on any device running the new operating system. That universality underlies the company's revised mission statement: Helping customers be more productive across all apps and devices.

Nadella has spent much of the last year and a half rebuilding Microsoft. He's emphasized getting the company's flagship software, like its Office application suite, on devices of all sizes and types, including competitors', and has stressed the power of Windows as a cloud-based service. He has also instituted companywide cultural shifts, pushing ambitious research projects like the HoloLens headset out of the lab and turning the development of Windows 10 into a transparent, feedback-driven process that recruited consumers as early testers.

The changes haven't come without some sour notes. Last summer, the company laid off 18,000 employees of its then-125,000-person global workforce A majority of those layoffs were former Nokia employees brought on after Microsoft acquired the Finnish company's handset division in April 2014 for $7.2 billion.

And just last week, Microsoft announced an organizational shakeup that included the exit of former Nokia CEO Stephen Elop. Microsoft promoted Terry Myerson, former head of operating systems, to be chief of the new Windows and Devices Group. That division rolls the consumer device businesses, like Xbox, Surface and Lumia, into the company's largest software division. The goal is to make Windows 10 the common thread among every device, product and service.

Nadella also noted the company's ongoing diversity initiatives, a topic that made headlines in October when the CEO implied female employees shouldn't ask for raises but should instead trust karma.

"We will be open to learning our own biases and changing our behaviors so we can tap into the collective power of everyone at Microsoft," Nadella wrote in the new mission statement. "We don't just value differences, we seek them out, we invite them in. And as a result, our ideas are better, our products are better and our customers are better served."

Nadella doesn't mention the word "layoffs" in his memo, but he does flick at the possibility of more employee exits or even products or divisions potentially getting the axe.

"We will need to innovate in new areas, execute against our plans, make some tough choices in areas where things are not working and solve hard problems in ways that drive customer value," Nadella wrote.