Windows and Office: Microsoft's Top Cloud Brands?

Windows and Office: Microsoft's Top Cloud Brands?

It's a predictable and frequently reliable Microsoft strategy: Whenever the software giant faces a titanic challenge, Microsoft reverts back to two classic, cash-cow brands: Windows and Office. Think about this for the moment: Even as Microsoft prepares to spend 90 percent of its research and development on cloud computing, the company will lean entirely on the Windows and Office brands to win the cloud wars. That's good news... and bad news. Here's why.

Simply put, most of Microsoft's cloud strategy now hinges on Windows Azure (platform as a service), Office 365 (software as a service) and Windows Server Hyper-V (for private clouds). More specifically:

  • Scores of ISVs (independent software vendors) are rewriting their applications for Windows Azure. And in some cases, Microsoft is paying ISVs to port their software to Azure, Talkin' Cloud has learned.

  • Microsoft is preparing to launch Office 365 -- the successor to Microsoft BPOS -- sometime in 2011.

  • And Microsoft is marrying Hyper-V virtualization with Windows Server to promote private clouds.

Whether you're a cloud services provider, managed services provider or VAR, Microsoft certainly wants your attention with the Windows and Office cloud brands.

What's In A Name?

Sure, Microsoft has other cloud brands -- such as Xbox Live, one of the best-known consumer cloud brands in the world. But on the business front Microsoft has largely struggled with cloud branding.

The low point came in August and September 2010, when Microsoft's SaaS platform -- Business Productivity Online Suite (BPOS) -- suffered multiple outages. For those who knew about BPOS, the outages tarnished the brand. And for those who were new to the cloud, the BPOS brand was yet another acronym (YAA) in a sea of cloud hype.

By October 2010, Microsoft was retreating from the BPOS brand and aggressively promoting the Office 365 brand. In many ways, Office 365 is simply BPOS (SharePoint Online, Exchange Online) with a new name and some enhancements. But Microsoft says Office 365 will be different than BPOS for technical and business reasons. Moreover, Microsoft is planning to promote Office 365 in a major mainstream media campaign sometime in the first half of 2011, Talkin' Cloud has learned.

Will Microsoft's latest Windows and Office brands catch on in the cloud? We're watching the situation closely.

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