Microsoft Earnings: Business Revenues Set Stage for Office 365

When Microsoft announced earnings results yesterday, it was a firm reminder about how quickly technology waves can build and crash. Look closely at the earnings and you'll see the netbook market imploding even as Microsoft's business-related sales grow and Chief Operating Officer Kevin Turner signals the imminent arrival of Office 365. What does all this mean for MSPs? Hardware platforms come and go, but software architectures for mobile and cloud computing should have staying power. Here's the update.

During the recession, netbook sales skyrocketed as consumers pursued inexpensive computing devices. There were even signs that low-cost netbooks tied to broadband services would become the next big hardware as a service (HaaS) opportunity. Back in May 2009, MSPmentor suggested that MSPs should prepare for managed netbook services. We were wrong. Instead, we should have told readers to focus on mobile device management as a potential service.

The key lesson: Hardware formats come and go. iPads sales are crushing netbook sales, Microsoft's most recent earnings suggest. But regardless of the hardware platform, mobility is forever. As is the cloud.

More Than Hype

Despite recent cloud outages at and Sony, I see no signs of a cloud computing slowdown. In fact, cloud computing mind share and market share will further accelerate once Microsoft Office 365 officially launches.

Microsoft's server and tools revenues grew a healthy 11 percent in the most recent quarter, suggesting that businesses remain loyal to Windows Server, Exchange, SharePoint and other server-centric applications. As Office 365 advertising campaigns accelerate, I suspect the cloud suite will also be a hit with businesses.

MSPs: Skeptics and Beta Testers

Stll, MSP enthusiasm for Office 365 seems lukewarm at best, especially since Microsoft continues to control end-customer billing for cloud services. Some MSPs are certainly beta testing Office 365. Microsoft also is promoting roughly 27 channel partners that can assist customers with Office 365 migrations. And companies like Quest Software have already introduced Office 365 migration services -- despite the fact that Office 365 won't officially debut until around July or so, MSPmentor believes.

There are also signs that ISVs and MSPs will write software extensions for Office 365. With that goal in mind, Microsoft recently expanded the Office 365 beta and previewed an Office 365 marketplace, where channel partners can find third-party cloud solutions.

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