Microsoft's future focus: WPC 2012

As Microsoft's Worldwide Partner Conference (WPC 2012) enters the home stretch, the software giant is spruiking its plans to make life difficult for Google, VMWare and Apple.

As the Microsoft’s Worldwide Partner Conference (WPC 2012) enters the final stretch the software giant is switching into competition mode. Day three of the conference was headlined by Microsoft’s chief operating officer Kevin Turner and Jonathan Roskill, Microsoft’s Worldwide Partner Group lead, and both were keen to explain how the company plans to compete over the next 12 months.

Lead with the cloud

Turner took  to the stage with his heart set on rallying the troops with Microsoft’s operating strategy for the next 12 months. His main focus was the FY12’s goals, and here they are:

  • Lead with the cloud
  • Drive Windows 7, Office 2010 and Internet Explorer 9 adoption
  • Grow market share by competing to win
  • Drive customer satisfaction

By all accounts Microsoft achieved and exceeded these goals. First of all Microsoft grew their cloud offerings by 100 per cent (revenue) from the previous year, which is an outstanding number. Windows and Office 2010 are at an all time high of adoption, although an actual number was not given.

For the first time ever Hyper-V won market share back from VMware and Microsoft’s SQL database product now holds the majority market share. Microsoft’s internal tracking tool for customer satisfaction also showed a five plus point gain in how customers feel about Microsoft.

Turner highlighted eight technology trends that Microsoft will focus on over the next 12 months:

  • Cloud Computing 
  • Data explosion
  • Social computing
  • Natural interaction
  • Ecosystem of computers
  • Consumerisation of IT
  • Ubiquitous connectivity
  • Machine learning

He also revealed Microsoft’s vision for “a continuous cloud service for every person, every device and every business”. This is ambitious call but if anyone has the ability to do it, it’s Microsoft. This is the first time in the company’s history that every single one of their products is being refreshed over the next 12 months

Consumerisation of IT

Microsoft plans to make devices that people love no matter what the platform (tablet, PC and Phone). To achieve this the company is making a big bet on Windows Phone, Windows 8, Xbox and its new Metro interface, which forms a common look and feel on every Microsoft device. 

Microsoft is producing the best productivity experience to keep people doing business, with tools such as Office, Lync (voice, instant messaging and presence) and the SharePoint platform.

A big push from Microsoft this year is to ensure that Google doesn’t expand its Apps business across the globe. Turner told partners that they should be focused on growing their knowledge of the product and be proactive helping customers with cloud plans, not letting someone else have those conversations.

 Microsoft pushed the fact that it also gained market share back from VMware and currently is growing its share by 26.6 per cent in the hypervisor space with VMware only growing at 15.8 per cent. Turner went on to explain that SQL has 46 per cent market share for databases with their nearest competitor Oracle having only 17per cent market share.

In the consumer space, Microsoft has its forthcoming launch of its Windows 8 platform, the Surface tablet, Xbox with the new Smart Glass technologies and Windows Phone 8. Turner did say that Apple make great hardware but wasn’t concerned with their upcoming operating system Mountain Lion pushing the view that Windows 8’s Metro interface would win every time.

Growth through partners

Turner had been preceded to the stage by Roskill, who explained how many vendors have very different through channel sales models. Currently Microsoft estimates that 95 per cent of its revenue stream comes from partners, while its closest competitor, VMware, has a 75 per cent through partner sales model.

He also noted how fast Microsoft’s Office 365 business had grown with a year on year growth rate over 114 per cent. This is quite impressive when you think that Windows 95, which was an outstanding release in its time, only had a 49 per cent year on year growth.

Roskill also announced that Microsoft would be changing the way it incentivized partners (and customers). If partners don’t meet the targets they set jointly with Microsoft then it wouldn’t pay its staff commission. This goes to show that Microsoft is very much committed to ensuring that its partners are successful, especially in the current market.

Rhys Evans is national practice manager Enterprise Information Systems at Thomas Duryea Consulting.