Apps are a key to selling customers on Windows 8, according to a panel of partners gathered by Microsoft.
Danny Burlage, CTO at Wortell; Scott Gosling, Microsoft practice manager at Data#3; and Carl Mazzanti, CEO of eMazzanti Technologies joined Microsoft executives on Tuesday for a webcast session of MPN [Microsoft Partner Network] Live about Windows 8 sales.
Mazzanti said his Hoboken, N.J.-based company had just closed a major deal involving Windows 8 seats at an architectural firm. Key to the sale was a killer Windows 8 app.
"They're going to be able to take their tablet into a building and move [the device] around to see what the building looks like for 3-D rendering," Mazzanti said. The right apps, leveraging portability of the new form factors and touch, can lead to "lightbulbs going on" for customers, Mazzanti said.
For Netherlands-based Wortell, Burlage said a program investment by Microsoft to support partner app development is extremely helpful.
Microsoft calls the program Windows Accelerate. In addition to proof-of-concept and production pilots for Windows 8 deployments, the program includes help for designing and piloting custom apps.
"We're engaged in about 20 of those projects," Burlage said. "Building an app really accelerates the customer going into Windows 8 at all. We built an app for a municipality and they right now decided to move over to Windows 8."
An added advantage, Burlage said, is owning the intellectual property of the app at the end of the process, enabling reuse of the code to support apps for other customers with similar needs. Burlage also said some of Wortell's apps are driving additional Azure and Office 365 business by using those cloud platforms on the back end.
Data#3 in Australia is seeing a fairly robust business in Windows 8, including a massive education deployment currently underway, Gosling said. While apps help attract new deployment customers, Gosling noted two other ways that partners are using apps in Windows 8. One is to use the Microsoft Store to take a partner's IP public and make additional money on some good code. The other is to use the Sideloading capabilities in Windows 8 to distribute custom apps to customer devices.
Erwin Visser, general manager of Windows Commercial Marketing for Microsoft, said partners who are achieving the best results with Windows 8 are sending their sales reps to meetings ready to "show customers Windows 8, Windows 8 devices and a prototype app."
Posted by Scott Bekker on February 26, 2013 at 12:32 PM0 comments
Nokia is taking its global portfolio of Lumia phones, and the underlying Windows Phone 8 platform, to more countries.
Nokia on Monday announced two new lower-priced Nokia Lumia phones. Rolled out at Mobile World Congress (MWC) in Barcelona, Spain, were the Lumia 720 and the Lumia 520. In a recent research report, IDC estimated that Nokia accounts for about three-quarters of Windows Phone sales.
|The Lumia 720 |
The 720 is billed as a midrange phone and will be available this quarter in Hong Kong, Vietnam and Singapore and next quarter in Europe, Africa, China, India and other Asian countries. Nokia describes the 520 as its "most affordable Windows Phone 8 smartphone" and plans to make it available this quarter in Hong Kong and Vietnam and next quarter in Europe, China, India, Latin America and Africa.
|The Lumia 520 |
Nokia also is working with T-Mobile to roll out the Lumia 520 with T-Mobile in the United States.
Both phones come in five colors. In Euros, the Lumia 720 will have a base price of 249 and the Lumia 520 will cost 139. Neither price includes taxes or subsidies.
Posted by Scott Bekker on February 25, 2013 at 11:42 AM1 comments
Citrix plans to unveil a new partner portal later this week.
The "My Citrix" portal will become "Partner Central" on Thursday. Aside from changing the name, Citrix is streamlining and reorganizing many of its partner resources.
Partner Central will be organized into five main functional areas: training and certification, sales, marketing, licensing and renewals, and support. Partners will now also be able to manage their own Citrix licenses and accounts as customers from the single partner sign-on.
According to Citrix, current My Citrix portal credentials will continue to work on the new Partner Central portal.
Posted by Scott Bekker on February 24, 2013 at 1:36 PM0 comments
Digital security vendor ESET this month launched a partner program specifically for managed services providers.
The ESET MSP offering covers ESET's Endpoint Security and Endpoint Antivirus products, which provide protection against malware, phishing, viruses, spam and other cyber-threats for companies with 25 users up to tens of thousands of users.
The main feature of the partner program is decreasing costs with increasing volumes of licenses. An MSP-specific benefit is the ESET Remote Administrator, which plugs into several types of remote monitoring and management (RMM) tools and allows MSPs to remotely control antivirus and other security settings.
The program is currently available for ESET partners in North America.
Posted by Scott Bekker on February 20, 2013 at 12:35 PM0 comments
Dimension Data is capitalizing on the growing demand for Microsoft Lync with a new managed services offering.
Dimension Data, one of Microsoft's largest global partners, announced the new service during the Microsoft Lync conference this week in San Diego.
The service includes application support for Lync 2010 and Lync 2013, hardware support, patch notifications, service management and administration. The company will leverage its access to Microsoft Premier Support for Lync Partners to make the offering robust.
"We have already received great interest in the [Lync] platform," said Peter Menadue, Dimension Data's general manager for Microsoft Solutions, in a statement explaining the reasoning behind the new service. Menadue said Dimension Data customers have been eager to try high-definition video conferencing, Skype federation and overall architectural improvements in Lync 2013.
The managed services for Lync complement several of Dimension Data's existing managed services offerings, including Cloud Services for Lync, Managed Services for IPT and Managed Services for Visual communications.
Posted by Scott Bekker on February 20, 2013 at 12:32 PM0 comments
IT market research firms Gartner and IDC are both out this week with smartphone shipment estimates that show Windows Phone making significant progress in the fourth quarter of 2012.
The global studies contrast with studies released a week ago by Canalys and comScore, both of which suggested Microsoft made no market share progress in the critical Q4 period, which coincided with the release of the Windows Phone 8 operating system and carrier devices.
IDC today estimated that Microsoft and its partners sold 6 million Windows Phones in the quarter, a 150 percent increase over Q4 2011. While overall share remains very small at 2.6 percent, that's much larger than the 1.5 percent share in the year-ago period. IDC labeled the growth "market-beating," as the overall market increased 42 percent. Apple saw 29 percent growth from its very large base to 48 million units, while Android is still experiencing very strong growth from already huge volumes -- 88 percent growth to 160 million units.
The IDC numbers are in the same ballpark as estimates released by Gartner on Wednesday. Gartner put Windows Phone shipments for Q4 at nearly 6.2 million for 3 percent market share, a gain of 1.2 points of share compared to Q4 2011.
Canalys a week earlier had estimated Windows Phone shipments for the quarter at 5.1 million (the company covers around 50 countries, rather than the entire global market), and called the 2.4 percent market share "unchanged sequentially."
A day before that, on Feb. 6, comScore actually contended that Microsoft's Windows Phone share dropped sequentially in the United States from the third quarter to the fourth -- a surprising result given the Windows Phone 8 release and aggressive marketing campaigns for the platform by Microsoft, carriers and handset makers. Based on surveys of U.S. smartphone owners, comScore reported that Microsoft's share of smartphone subscribers had fallen seven-tenths of a point to 2.9 percent in the fourth quarter.
IDC and Gartner have some professional pride riding on Windows Phone's success: Both firms predicted in 2011 that the platform's partnership with Nokia would result in about 20 percent of smartphone market share by 2015. Nokia did make important progress with Windows Phone in Q4. In its quarterly report to investors, Nokia said it sold 4.4 million of its Windows Phone-based Lumia units. IDC estimates that Nokia accounts for 76 percent of Windows Phone platform sales.
One IDC analyst contended that the quarter represented an important setup period for Microsoft, while the current quarter represents a similar opportunity for BlackBerry, which just launched BB10. "With the recent introductions of two new smartphone platforms we expect some ground to be made by the new entrants over the coming years," Ryan Reith said in a statement. "There is no question the road ahead is uphill for both Microsoft and BlackBerry, but history shows us consumers are open to change. Platform diversity is something not only the consumers have asked for, but also the operators."
Posted by Scott Bekker on February 14, 2013 at 11:54 AM1 comments
Remember Microsoft's massive datacenter build-out campaign? It's still going on.
Wired has a piece this morning putting the running total of Microsoft's spending on building out datacenters for Internet services such as Bing, Skype and Windows Azure at $15 billion.
The article mentions Microsoft's well-known datacenters in Quincy, Wash.; Chicago; Dublin; San Antonio, Texas; and Boydton, Va. The datacenter in Chicago was a flagship for a modular design that allowed Microsoft to drop in more containers whenever it needed extra capacity -- meaning the company can increase capacity at a site on an ongoing basis or swap a module out to another datacenter.
Microsoft is still expanding its datacenter footprint with new locations, as well. According to Wired, Microsoft will open a new $112 million, Cheyenne, Wyo. datacenter, complete with a methane-powered portable unit called a Data Plant, in a few months.
Posted by Scott Bekker on February 11, 2013 at 1:36 PM0 comments
Condusiv Technologies is pretty confident its new virtual machine acceleration software will work.
The software optimization vendor formerly known as Diskeeper Corp. on Monday will announce a performance guarantee promising channel partners a complete refund if their customers don't realize a 25 percent performance improvement in of deployed VMs.
"We are putting our money where our mouth is," Condusiv CEO Jerry Baldwin said.
The guarantee covers V-locity 4 VM Accelerator, which Condusiv released in December. The tool works with VMware ESX/ESXi and Microsoft Hyper-V and is designed to reduce I/O bottlenecks at the server level in storage area network and network-attached storage environments.
At a high level, the software addresses two core problems, according to Condusiv documentation. A feature called IntelliMemory caches active data in RAM to reduce unnecessary I/O traffic, while another feature, IntelliWrite, prevents Windows from automatically breaking files into pieces that use up I/O bandwidth unnecessarily. Supported virtual machine operating systems include Windows XP SP2 or higher, Windows Vista, Windows 7, Windows 8, Windows Server 2003, Windows Server 2008, Windows Server 2008 R2 and Windows Server 2012.
The performance guarantee comes in at less than half of what Condusiv is claiming as a typical performance gain from the software, giving the Burbank, Calif.-based company some wiggle room. While the 25 percent guarantee represents a solid performance improvement, Condusiv released third-party benchmarks performed by Westborough, Mass.-based openBench Labs in December showing performance gains of better than 50 percent.
The guarantee uses an embedded benchmarking tool called the Benefit Analyzer, which measures before and after throughput. The tool was originally included to give IT customers a way to measure the effectiveness of V-locity and to provide documentation for IT management.
Should the tool show performance gains of less than 25 percent, Condusiv says it will issue a full refund to the customer for all licenses stipulated in the purchase order, even if the product is purchased through a reseller.
Condusiv will also announce Monday that Ingram Micro is adding V-locity 4 to its catalog and offering joint partner incentives in the United States.
Posted by Scott Bekker on February 08, 2013 at 3:14 PM0 comments
Ah, chaos. It's when all the best business opportunities emerge.
Dell created some chaos this week with the announcement that it would go private in a huge deal valued at $24 billion. (Well, intensified the chaos is probably a more accurate way to put it. Dell admitted in its official statement on the deal that rumors of the joint Michael Dell/Silver Lake merger agreement were first published on Jan. 11.)
Rumors and uncertainty are the lifeblood of any good channel and customer poaching effort.
Dell for years played successfully on the ongoing chaos among top management and the board of HP to bolster its partner efforts.
Returning the favor, HP pounced immediately on Dell's news. "Dell has a very rough road ahead. The company faces an extended period of uncertainty and transition that will not be good for its customers. And with a significant debt load, Dell's ability to invest in new products and services will be extremely limited. Leveraged buyouts tend to leave existing customers and innovation at the curb," HP asserted in a formal statement.
Assuming HP would rush the same message to Dell partners, Dell's channel chief Greg Davis issued his own statement to reporters: "As Dell enters this exciting new chapter, our commitment to channel partners does not waiver. As a private enterprise, we will continue to execute our strategy of delivering best-in-class solutions and growing our channel relationships."
Dell's positioning of the potential effects of privatization paints a very different picture from HP's. Talking about the deal, CEO Michael Dell implies that moving away from the quarterly reporting pressures and subsequent stock market rewards and punishments will free Dell to pursue strategic objectives more nimbly.
"We can deliver immediate value to stockholders, while we continue the execution of our long-term strategy and focus on delivering best-in-class solutions to our customers as a private enterprise," Michael Dell said in statement. "Dell has made solid progress executing this strategy over the past four years, but we recognize that it will still take more time, investment and patience, and I believe our efforts will be better supported by partnering with Silver Lake in our shared vision."
For those partners reliant on the PC business, meanwhile, there is a new obstacle in place in the private deal to keep Dell from rushing for the exits too quickly. Now that stockholders can't punish Dell for taking a short-term revenue hit for dramatically reducing its declining PC business in order to focus on better growth opportunities, Microsoft could serve to slow Dell's potential transition.
Microsoft loaned $2 billion to the Dell-Silver Lake group for the deal. Microsoft's stated aim? "Microsoft is committed to the long term success of the entire PC ecosystem and invests heavily in a variety of ways to build that ecosystem for the future," the company said in a statement.
HP is coming after Dell's customers and partners, Dell is assuring its channel that there's a place for them in Dell's new private world, and Microsoft is there to make sure Dell remains a pillar of the PC ecosystem. What's a channel partner to do? Play HP and Dell off each other ruthlessly to secure the best terms for yourself, of course.
Posted by Scott Bekker on February 07, 2013 at 11:49 AM3 comments
Tami Reller released some official statements on the state of Windows 8 at 90 days in the form of a Q&A posted on Microsoft's Web site earlier this week. While the Windows CMO/CFO repeated a lot of data points Microsoft had previously shared -- 60 million licenses, 100 million apps downloaded, etc. -- she did have some interesting things to say about the learning curve.
Windows 8 is essentially two operating systems. One OS is the Windows 7 desktop minus the Start button, while the other OS is the new touch-centric, tile-and-app-filled, next-generation interface. Especially on the tile side, navigating the operating system requires intricate gestures and mouse movements that are not intuitive.
As we've said here at RCP in reviews and blogs, the payoff is high but the learning curve is steep. In the Q&A, Reller's questioner, Brandon LeBlanc, asked about the "learning curve" (quotation mark emphasis Microsoft's).
After talking about all the pre-release usage time and testing, Reller got into some interesting data points based on Microsoft's post-release collection of usage data.
- "Fifty percent of users get through the out of box experience in less than 5 minutes."
- "On the very first day, virtually everyone launches an app from the Start screen, finds the desktop, and finds the charms."
- "Almost half of users go to the Windows Store on that first day."
- "After two weeks, the average person doubles the number of tiles on Start."
- "People find the new features in the context of what they are trying to do, and incorporate them into their everyday use after finding them."
Those numbers seem reasonable. Some of the basics of using the operating system that Reller covers aren't difficult. A two-week learning curve also seems like a plausible amount of time for people to get comfortable with an operating system that is substantially different from a paradigm they've used since Windows 95.
There's something to be said for giving Windows 8 a couple weeks before passing judgment on it. (We based our review on a month of usage.) That said, there are plenty of vocal users who have given it that long, gotten over the learning curve and still don't like it. What remains baffling is why the Start button needed to go -- former Windows chief Steven Sinofsky's lengthy explanations notwithstanding. The Desktop gives users a way to not only run legacy apps but to run the OS the way they want.
Maybe in the process of the ongoing updates to the OS that Reller refers to vaguely later in the Q&A, Microsoft could provide a formally sanctioned option for restoring the Start button and launching into Desktop mode. It would give users who don't like the new interface a way to feel like they haven't wasted their money, and it would give Microsoft more time to turn current haters into future converts to the new interface.
Posted by Scott Bekker on February 06, 2013 at 12:57 PM5 comments
Sophos on Monday updated its mobile device management (MDM) software to expand support to Android devices in the BYOD mix.
The latest release is Sophos Mobile Control 3.0, and it is available on-premise and as a service.
In addition to the Android device support, the new version supports Samsung SAFE (Samsung for Enterprises) devices, new protections against malicious apps and extended URL filtering.
Core capabilities of Sophos Mobile Control include management of Apple iOS, BlackBerry and now Android devices; compliance enforcement such as remote lock and wipe and the ability to block e-mail access; whitelisting, blacklisting and distribution of apps; and user self-service.
Posted by Scott Bekker on February 04, 2013 at 12:40 PM0 comments
Microsoft has officially opened registration for the Microsoft Worldwide Partner Conference, its huge annual gathering of partners every July.
This year's event in Houston has four big themes: big data, cloud, social and mobility.
In a blog entry announcing the start of registration, Microsoft's WPC Experience Ambassador Kati Quigley detailed other themes:
- "The role of leadership can play in the success of your organization.
- "Best practices, business success stories, partners' engagement model, and recommendations.
- "All things cloud. Find out how you can transform your business model to pursue this rapidly changing IT market shift. We'll cover everything -- from fundamental differences in marketing, selling, and delivering solutions, to internal differences such as HR, training, and compensation."
Microsoft has been promoting this WPC non-stop almost from the moment the 2012 WPC wrapped up in Toronto. It will be interesting to see how many partners join them in steamy Houston this summer. I'll be there to keep up on the news. Let me know if you're going and what you hope to gain from WPC this year at email@example.com.
Posted by Scott Bekker on February 04, 2013 at 11:46 AM0 comments