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Microsoft vows to bark like a dog for you in 2008

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WPC Microsoft has promised "big dog" products and R&D spend next year, to defend its partner turf and go head-to-head against competitors new and old. Woof!

Opening the company's annual Worldwide Partner Conference chief operating officer Kevin Turner announced Feb. 27, 2008, would herald the biggest single day of launches in Microsoft's history (at least since the last, biggest single one-day release of Windows Vista and Office 2007 on January 30) with Windows Server 2008, SQL Server 2008, and Visual Studio 2008.

Turner predicted a "feeding frenzy" of opportunity around the trio of server and tools releases. News of the SQL Server launch date comes as rival Oracle prepares this week to announce its long-awaited new database, 11g.

Turner also promised Microsoft will during the coming 12 months exceed the $7bn record set on R&D spending during its past fiscal year - outspending all competitors.

The investment, building on Windows Vista and Office 2007 this year, made Microsoft a reliable partner, Turner said. "Those were huge, huge big dog releases... multi billion dollar products. That's only part of the story." In Fiscal 2008: "I see money, I can see monetization. I can smell it, I can hear it, I can see it. This is the year we are going to monetize innovation we have talked about."

Woof!

Microsoft early last year sent Wall St reaching for the Pepto Bismol when it reveled plans to spend $2.5bn more than expected building out an online platform against the Google behemoth. Turner did not put a figure on the coming year's planned spend, or say where the money will go, but promised: "It [R&D spending] will be going up again this year... we are not slowing down."

Turner adopted a combative tone during a morning session that acknowledged Microsoft partners are being bombarded by new alternatives in technology and platform choice, with on demand software and open source making Microsoft look dated. And, with Windows Vista, Microsoft has also invited competition by going up against the security industry.

Microsoft has made matters for itself worse with constant roadmap revisions - the latest victim being Windows Server 2008 and the in/out server virtualization feature list - and a Windows Vista client that was clearly released unready, and left partners, users and even Microsoft executives hanging thanks to uncertified hardware and software.

Scoring Microsoft progress on setting and meeting roadmaps, a goal Turner established last year, Microsoft's chief operating officer gave Microsoft's a "C" grade. "We have a roadmap for every group... but we still have a long way to go. It was difficult and it was complicated and we have got to make progress here." He admitted it has been hard for partners to find a single point of contact with Microsoft.

Apologies done, Turner turned the guns back on the competition and was the morning's first executive to state the future is services plus software.

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