This week Microsoft didn’t get much hype for its three major announcements. Certainly it didn’t stay on top of TechMeme as long as, say, if Steve Jobs gets a sniffle. But don’t miss what they did.
1. On day 1 of the PDC they announced Azure, which is a set of cloud services that competes with Amazon’s S3 and Rackspace’s Mosso and will radically change enterprises’ acceptance of cloud services for a whole lot of reasons.
2. On day 2 of the PDC they showed off Windows 7 which is getting high praise from my blogging friends who were lent laptops with it on there (I didn’t get Windows 7 yet).
3. On day 3 of the PDC they showed off new Web-based versions of Microsoft Office that were really nice. Will the new PowerPoint have the collaborative features, of, say, SlideRocket? Will Zoho go out of business? No, and no, but this is a significant move into the Web for a group that’s tried to pretend that the Web didn’t matter that much.
4. They also released new Mac and Mobile versions of Mesh and further explained how that’ll enable new kinds of Internet-connected apps to be built.
Some really great resources on all this:
Microsoft put up videos of every session at the PDC.
Ars Technica covered it well.
Microsoft’s own Channel 9 has a ton of videos.
I have a database of all blogs and good items on FriendFeed for these searches:
- Windows 7
(These all are hand picked items from the live web and have good conversations around tons of items. I watch 3,600 incoming accounts and hand select the most interesting items by clicking like or commenting on them).
So, lets talk about whether Microsoft will be successful in changing the marketplace again. First some things you should remember:
- Microsoft has an extraordinarly strong sales force.
- Microsoft is a world-wide company with thousands of evangelists located in almost every local market. When I attended the Converge South conference in North Carolina, Microsoft had an evangelist there to make sure everyone got the latest software they were pitching. Same thing happens in Israel. In China. In Russia. In Dubai. In India. Does Rackspace have that kind of on-the-ground sales muscle? No.
- Microsoft is one of the few companies with enough cash to ride out the recession in good shape and keep its data centers up-to-date with the latest machines.
- Microsoft has a huge set of developers who know Visual Studio well and have been building apps with C# and Visual Basic for years now.
- Microsoft has sales leverage due to its other products. Here’s an imaginary Microsoft salesperson’s pitch: “You want Exchange server? Your company will need to buy that unless you’re a small startup and can consider going with a new approach like Gmail. Well, how about you get it a lot cheaper if you go with our cloud services?” Same for Sharepoint. Or SQL Server.
Translation: It doesn’t matter that Microsoft didn’t get all that much hype this year at the PDC or that it didn’t sell out or that other companies like Amazon, Google, and Rackspace are ahead in the cloud game.
You just saw Ray Ozzie turn the creaky old cruiseliner hard to port and damn, it is impressive.
What do you think? Am I right? Did the old cruiseliner just make a major corner turn? Or is this all stuff that can be ignored?