Five Microsoft Moves Worth Watching
Microsoft is busy articulating its server, software and managed services strategies at the company’s big partner conference this week in Denver. Here are five Microsoft moves worth noting, and their potential impact on VARs.
1. Server Initiatives: Windows Server 2008, SQL Server 2008 and Visual Studio 2008 are taking center stage at the event. To Microsoft’s credit, the company intends to make sure Windows Server 2008 fully supports third-party open source applications — even as Microsoft’s own application teams gear up for the operating system as well.
2. Software as a Service: See some great analysis, from Mary Jo Foley, describing how Microsoft hopes to promote hosted applications without steamrolling partners. Microsoft also hopes to compete against Salesforce.com in the hosted CRM space. Full disclosure: The VAR Guy holds a few shares of Salesforce.com in his retirement account. The total value doesn’t equal the price of a new Vista PC. But nonetheless,the few shares indicate that The VAR Guy is a strong believer in Salesforce.com as a market leader.
3. Managed Services: Microsoft has partnered with Level Platforms to help VARs remotely manage and monitor customer networks. eWeek offers some analysis of the relationship. The VAR Guy expects more MSP platform providers — Autotask, N-able, Kaseya, etc. — to ink partnerships with software companies and distributors throughout this year.
4. Unified Communications: To CRN’s credit, the legacy publication noted that Microsoft has added a voice specialization to its Information Worker Competency. Translation: The company is seeking to recruit and train VoIP and unified communication VARs in time for the launch of Office Communication Server 2007 this fall. Cisco claims to have a three-year lead on Microsoft in the unified communications space. We’ll see if that holds true this fall.
5. Feeling Social: And the big rumor. Microsoft buying Facebook for $6 billion? Too soon to say for sure. But CEO Steve Ballmer is preoccupied with Web 2.0 consumer services.
Microsoft is certainly working overtime to address partner questions about managed services and software as a service. But chatter about Windows Vista appears subdued at the conference. Hmmm. That may be a good thing. At some point, every VAR has to go where the money is. And reselling PCs with Vista upgrades isn’t exactly a high-margin business.