Microsoft's Blah Tablet Strategy

Steve Ballmer's presentation to financial analysts this Thursday deserves a special place in the business wing of the Museum of FUBAR. After months of Apple iPad commanding the attention of, oh, say, the world, here's the best response that Ballmer had. 

Now, we've got some other competitive actions coming back, and we'll talk about slates and tablets and blah, blah, blah, blah ....

Just like we had to make things happen on netbooks, we've got to make things happen with Windows 7 on slates. And we are in the process of doing that as we speak. We're working with our hardware partners, we're tuning Windows 7 to new slate hardware designs that they're bringing them to market. And, yeah, you're going to get a lot of cacophony. There will be people who do things with other operating systems. But we've got the application base, we've got the user familiarity. We've got everything on our side if we do things really right.

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A Tale Of Three Software Vendors: Microsoft Up, IBM Lagging, SAP In Between In Q2 2010

To paraphrase Charles Dickens, Q2 2010 seemed like the best of times or the worst of times for the big software vendors.  For Microsoft, it was the best of times; for IBM, it was (comparatively) the worst of times; and for SAP it was in between.  IBM on June 19, 2010, reported total revenue growth of just 2% in the fiscal quarter ending June 30, 2010, with its software unit also reporting 2% growth (6%, excluding the revenues of its divested product lifecycle management group from Q2 2009).  Those growth rates were down from 5% growth for IBM overall in Q1 2010, and 11% for the software group.  In comparison, Microsoft on June 22, 2010, reported 22% growth in its revenues, with Windows revenues up 44%, Server and Tools revenues up 14%, and Microsoft Business Division (Office and Dynamics) up 15%.  And SAP on June 27, 2010, posted 12% growth in its revenues in euros, 5% growth on a constant currency basis, and 5% growth when its revenues were converted into dollars.

What do these divergent results for revenue growth say about the state of the enterprise software market? 

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Jive Looks To Play With The Big Fish

This week, Jive Software, a leading player in social technology, announced it has closed $30 million in Series C financing, with Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers (KPCB) joining Sequoia Capital as the company’s venture investors.

So what does this mean for CIOs and IT, the custodians of enterprise technology architecture?

It is clear Jive wants to play with the big boys in the enterprise software space. To date, many Jive deployments have not involved IT. This ability to deploy its technology without IT’s involvement has no doubt helped Jive to this point. Of course, having market-leading functionality hasn't hurt. (Jive has featured highly in recent Forrester Wave reports).

At the recent Enterprise 2.0 conference in Boston, I sat down with Jive’s new CEO, Tony Zingale, to explore the company strategy. From our discussion, it was apparent that Jive intends to compete for a big slice of the enterprise collaboration marketplace. Fundamentally, this is the right direction for Jive, but I foresee some big challenges for the company along the way.

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The partner opportunity in cloud computing - Microsoft WPC

What is the opportunity for Microsoft partners (or other VARs, SIs, ISVs and technologists) in the emerging cloud computing space? Don't think of cloud as a threat but as an opportunity to ratchet up your value to the business my evangelizing and encouraging their transition to the cloud. How? At the recent Microsoft Worldwide Partner Conference I addressed this issue in an Expo Theater presentation. Missed it? Now you haven't:

Watch the video here.

Share your thoughts here by commenting below.

- James

As Cloud Platforms Battle For Credibility, OpenStack Is Pretty Solid

It seems every few weeks yet another company announces a cloud computing infrastructure platform. I'm not talking about public clouds but the underlying software which can turn a virtualized infrastructure into an Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) — whether public or private.

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Microsoft Truly Does Have Its Head In The Cloud – And Wants Its Partners To Join It!

This week, I was at the Microsoft Worldwide Partner Conference in Washington, D.C., and it was all about THE CLOUD. Now, many colleagues argue that Microsoft will be the second-to-last major vendor to show a 100% cloud commitment, saying that “it’s too embedded in its traditional software business,” “it doesn’t understand the new world,” and “it’d be scared of cannibalizing existing and predictable maintenance revenues.” But I remember Stephen Elop, president of Microsoft Business Systems, tell me with a mischievous grin that he’ll probably earn more money from Exchange Online than the on-premise version — “firstly, it’s mainly new business from other platforms like Lotus Notes, and second, I even generate revenues by charging for things like the data center buildings, the infrastructure, even the electricity I use.” That was in Berlin last November. I suspected then that Microsoft did get it but was just getting its platform ready. This week, I am convinced — Microsoft is “all in,” as they say.

And at the Microsoft Worldwide Partner Conference, it was driving its partners to the cloud as aggressively as any vendor has ever talked to its partners at such an event. All of the Microsoft executives preached a consistent mantra: “MOVE to the cloud, or you may not be around in five years.”

Microsoft’s cloud-based Business Productivity Online Suite (BPOS) is already being promoted by 16,000 partners that either get referral incentives for Microsoft-billed BPOS fees or bundle it into their own offerings (mainly telcos). There are nearly 5,000 certified Azure-ready partners. This week, Microsoft turned up the heat with these announcements:

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Microsoft Outlook Social Connector: Making Daily Activities Richer And More Social

Microsoft has announced the release of Microsoft Outlook Social Connector, which will bring friends’ data from Facebook, LinkedIn and MySpace into users' Outlook 2003, 2007 and 2010.  Before anyone says "Buzz" and discounts the value of this offering from Microsoft, I think we need to consider this not from the angle of yet another social platform or social aggregation tool but as a means of making our daily activities richer and more social. 

The Microsoft Outlook Social Connector won't change the social networking world, but it isn't designed to do so.  The Outlook Social Connector won’t replace any social networking behavior that we already have;  you'll still check Facebook.com, use Facebook's mobile site and apps and make status updates via Tweetdeck and Hootsuite.  Instead of competing with existing tools, Microsoft’s new plug-in is another step toward a more social experience where social data is organically integrated into our daily habits and activities.

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Why Did Google Buy ITA And Its Flight Comparison Software?

[Co-authored by Zachary Reiss-Davis]

Google announced yesterday that it is buying ITA Software for $700 million. ITA does two main things: airline eCommerce and reservations management solutions and a cross-airline flight comparison tool called QPX, used by most of the major travel comparison Web sites including Kayak, Orbitz, and Microsoft Bing. 

Google purchased it for the QPX product in a classic example of buying technology instead of either building it in-house or licensing it.

Today, Bing, Microsoft’s search offering, offers a solution that is based on QPX to help customers search for flight information on the Bing Web site. Google has nothing comparable; instead, they direct customers to other travel specific sites (see the screenshots below). 

Google is focused on the goal of staying at least half a step ahead of Microsoft in all aspects of search technology; in order to stay ahead of Microsoft in this area, Google had three major options: 1) License the technology; 2) Build it themselves; 3) Buy ITA. 

Licensing the technology would mean that Google would end up with a solution equivalent to Microsoft’s and not as robust as specialized Web sites like Kayak. Building the technology would take several years, allowing Microsoft and other competitors to continue to differentiate themselves and pull ahead. 

This left the acquisition as the only viable path to regaining leadership in this area, while at the same time placing Microsoft in the awkward position of relying on Google-owned technology as the backend for one of their major search features. 

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