Redmond Diary

By Andrew J. Brust

Blog archive

WPC 2011: A Spring in Redmond's Step

I just got back from Microsoft's 15,000 attendee-strong Worldwide Partner Conference (WPC) in Los Angeles, and I have to say, the company and its partners are pumped. How can this be, given the number of people who have written Microsoft's eulogy of late? If Amazon owns the cloud, if Apple owns the consumer, if Google owns search, if Cisco owns unified communications (UC), if EMC/VMWare owns virtualization, if Oracle and SAP own ERP and if Oracle/Siebel and Salesforce.com own CRM, how can Microsoft be ambulatory, let alone doing jumping jacks and running races?

The WPC keynotes shed some light on this. Jon Roskill, Microsoft's corporate vice president, Worldwide Partner Group, emceed the keynotes. On Day 2, he called out the confidence/dismissal disconnect by saying, "It is my opinion that Microsoft and our partners are being massively underestimated right now." And in the individual executives' keynotes that followed, the reasons for partners' elevated confidence were born out. But on Wednesday, Kevin Turner, Microsoft's COO and "chief compete officer" really made Microsoft's case, point by point. Among the very useful points of information in his address:

  • With a $9 billion research and development program, Microsoft now invests more in R&D than any company in any industry in the world (that's almost a direct quote)
  • Winning in the mobile phone space, and running Windows on ARM (key to a competitive Windows tablet) are two of Microsoft's big bets
  • Microsoft converted 4.5 million seats of Lotus Notes to Exchange last year
  • Office 365 (ostensibly including BPOS) has over 5 million licensed users and 2.8 million users deployed
  • Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online (i.e. not counting on-prem) has 30,000 customers and over 2 million licensed users
  • Azure users and applications are doubling in number every quarter
  • Hyper-V is growing market share at almost 2x the rate as VMWare
  • A vast number of Oracle customers are dissatisfied with service, pricing or both
  • Microsoft believes it can bring Windows Phone units sold to 100 million per annum, from the Nokia deal alone
  • In a Goldman Sachs survey asking, "Who do you view as your top 3 strategic IT vendors today?" Microsoft was selected more than any other vendor.

So even though Microsoft's been pronounced the loser in so many product categories, it seems in reality to have been beefing up its offerings just as its competitors are beginning to suffer from the vulnerability of hubris. Why the misalignment between the punditry and apparent circumstances? Let's go back to Turner for guidance. In his keynote he said, "Too many customers in the world define Microsoft and define our partners by old versions of Windows and old versions of Office." Perhaps that's why, to re-quote Roskill, "Microsoft and our partners are being massively underestimated right now."

Roskill and Turner make fair points. Microsoft's a dark horse, but it can win in UC with Lync and Skype, it can win in virtualization with Hyper-V and other technologies, and it can win in the cloud with Azure, Office 365 and even with a little help from Windows Live and MSN. It can make further inroads in search and advertising with Bing and adCenter, it can gain share in CRM, it can stage at least some comeback in consumer devices, be it in the phone form factor or the tablet with Windows Phone and Windows 8, and can maintain continuous strength in gaming and TV with Xbox and Kinect.

It's OK for the press and blogosphere to keep bashing Microsoft; the company seems to like adversity and do well when it encounters it. But if you want the real story, look past the headlines. Microsoft is steadfast in its competitive will and tenacity. To get a real sense of that, talk to Microsoft's partners and ask them why they're so bullish. If Microsoft fails, then so do they. If they're happy, then there are likely several good reasons.

Posted by Andrew J. Brust on 07/18/2011


comments powered by Disqus

Featured

  • AI for GitHub Collaboration? Maybe Not So Much

    No doubt GitHub Copilot has been a boon for developers, but AI might not be the best tool for collaboration, according to developers weighing in on a recent social media post from the GitHub team.

  • Visual Studio 2022 Getting VS Code 'Command Palette' Equivalent

    As any Visual Studio Code user knows, the editor's command palette is a powerful tool for getting things done quickly, without having to navigate through menus and dialogs. Now, we learn how an equivalent is coming for Microsoft's flagship Visual Studio IDE, invoked by the same familiar Ctrl+Shift+P keyboard shortcut.

  • .NET 9 Preview 3: 'I've Been Waiting 9 Years for This API!'

    Microsoft's third preview of .NET 9 sees a lot of minor tweaks and fixes with no earth-shaking new functionality, but little things can be important to individual developers.

  • Data Anomaly Detection Using a Neural Autoencoder with C#

    Dr. James McCaffrey of Microsoft Research tackles the process of examining a set of source data to find data items that are different in some way from the majority of the source items.

  • What's New for Python, Java in Visual Studio Code

    Microsoft announced March 2024 updates to its Python and Java extensions for Visual Studio Code, the open source-based, cross-platform code editor that has repeatedly been named the No. 1 tool in major development surveys.

Subscribe on YouTube