Microsoft vows to bark like a dog for you in 2008
Smells, hears and sees money
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."
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.
Presiding over a demonstration of the upcoming, hosted edition of Microsoft's Dynamics CRM, Turner unveiled two editions plus a planned market place to try and tempt wavering partners and customers away from Salesforce.com, whose PR and marketing has dominated the airwaves and mindshare war.
Turner announced Dynamics Live CRM Enterprise Edition which will be priced at $59 per user per month and Dynamics Live CRM Professional Edition at $44 per user per month. Additionally Microsoft plans a market place for partners to post applications that can be downloaded for deployment with Dynamics Live CRM. Importantly for partners, Dynamics Live CRM is customizable and customers can only join Microsoft's early adopter program through partners - earlier this year Ballmer caused disquiet saying partners stood to be "disintermediated" by Dynamics Live CRM.
The market place is a valuable component in Microsoft's strategy of building an ecosystem of companies capable of adding value to Dynamics Live CRM through plug ins - emulating AppExchange from Saleforce.com.
While admitting Microsoft is slow to ondemand, Turner gently chastised partners for "not getting" that services are the future for their businesses.
"[Software and services] was hardest to accept for Microsoft. Now we are full steam ahead. We have to change faster internally than the World is changing, or we'll be obsolete," Turner said. "The customer wants the choice [between onsite and ondemand]. We will help you and work with you. But the change is going to happen."
Turner predicted Microsoft's barley thought out and technologically incomplete Office Live service would - within the next five years - become one of the company's most important lines of business. In other words, earning millions of dollars per quarter. "In two to three years Office Live will be the most deployed, most utilized of all the products we have in the portfolio."
Turner told partners they had to be prepared to pick sides in an world where the lines of competition are blurring. "We will bump into Symantec, Cisco and SAP, but we are going to compete to win... we are going to compete fairly and respectfully." Tackling Linux, and referencing a recent IDC server survey that showed - for the first time in nearly 10 years Windows revenue outgrew Linux - Turner claimed Microsoft is overcoming "the perception of free when we know it's not free" to take market share.®