Microsoft Worldwide Partner Conference: Will Google Chrome OS Steal the Show?
Imagine the following scenario: You’re Microsoft — the world’s largest, most profitable software company. Several thousand of your top channel partners are about to meet you in New Orleans for a massive conference. Everyone is wondering if you can (A) retain your established software franchises while (B) pushing deeper into cloud and software as a service (SaaS). Then, an unexpected hurricane blows into town. It’s called Google Chrome OS — a new Linux operating system. Now what?
That’s the situation facing the Microsoft Worldwide Partner Conference (WPC09), which runs July 13-16 in New Orleans. During the event, Microsoft will provide numerous updates on Windows 7, Office 2010, Microsoft Business Productivity Online Suite, Windows Azure and the company’s overall Software Plus Services strategy.
But with a single blog post on July 7 — announcing Google Chrome OS, a Linux-based operating system — the search giant has once again changed the rules of the game. In a word, Google’s timing was “brilliant.”
Bloggers, IT journalists and business reporters are spending this week examining what exactly Google Chrome OS means to the operating system market, the Internet, mobile computing, and the future of application development.
Many of those same journalists will converge on the WPC09 conference, armed with Google-related questions for Microsoft. It’s going to be a fun week for those who love to whip up conversation. But a challenging week for Microsoft.
Simply put: Microsoft has spent a year stirring up interest in Windows 7 and distancing itself from Windows Vista. Now, Google has injected itself into the conversation with a single blog post.
Plenty of so-called pundits say the Microsoft empire is falling. No doubt, the company is under attack on multiple fronts. But channel partners are a loyal bunch. And several thousand of them will rally to Microsoft’s cause during WPC09 in New Orleans.
Oh, and did The VAR Guy mention that Microsoft’s net income was $2.98 billion in Q3? That’s not revenue, folks. It’s net income — down significantly from Q3 last year, but still a growing mountain of cash for Microsoft’s war chest.
Meanwhile, Google’s own channel strategy is just getting started. Sure, the Google Apps Reseller program has a reasonable following. But thousands of VARs and managed service providers continue to evangelize Microsoft Small Business Server, Exchange Server, SharePoint and a host of other solutions.
And while we’re on the topic of hosting, Microsoft’s Exchange and SharePoint seem to rank atop the list of applications that MSPs and VARs are hosting for customers these days.
Still, Microsoft must be worried about Google’s entry into the OS market. And Google timed the Chrome OS launch announcement perfectly. But Chrome OS faces multiple questions. And Windows 7, quite frankly, looks pretty promising.
Let the games — at Microsoft Worldwide Partner Conference 2009 — begin.