Reader Feedback: Microsoft and the Cloud

We've written so much about the cloud here recently that we don't even remember which post John was responding to when he sent us an e-mail on Microsoft's cloud efforts. Nevertheless, his thoughts are germane:

"Having worked very closely with Microsoft over the years, I've been becoming more and more frustrated with them and their attitudes to both the customer base and their partners. My background in hosting has seen the evolution of Windows hosting from a nebulous desire and hope of Scott Guthrie's through iterations of 'Solutions' and heavy, and successful, partner involvement on all levels to today's sorry state of affairs where they seem to be paying the partners lip service with vague reseller (actually referral) agreements and the injunction to 'create a new eco system' in support of BPOS / MOS <insert this months acronym here>. The grand statement of 'We're all in' is fine, but unfortunately the reality is that the organization is still very fragmented, and the alignment of products and their metrics is not following this grand scheme."

John, we hear you. Microsoft has made some strides in turning hype into reality in the cloud -- see Azure and the construction of a bunch of data centers -- but it still has a long way to go to get where it needs to be. (Then again, though, so do a lot of vendors.) What bothers us most, though, is what you mention about partners. We really feel as though the winds of change are blowing in the Partner Prog… sorry, Microsoft Partner Network. We believe that Microsoft is going to focus increasingly on large ISVs and systems integrators to the detriment of smaller consultants, VARs and resellers. Already, as you said, the "reseller" agreements for Microsoft's cloud services look more like petty payoffs than like true partner agreements. And Microsoft is not being shy at all about touting its own self-hosted services. So… yeah. We see where you're coming from.

And speaking of where John is coming from, he sent a link to a blog entry of his that is as dead-on a take about Microsoft's consumer-vs.-enterprise conundrum as we've read anywhere. Check it out.

Have something to say about any of the posts you've read in RCPU lately? Say it at [email protected]

Posted by Lee Pender on October 14, 2010 at 11:56 AM1 comments


EMC Releases Greenplum Technology

The storage giant's recent acquisition has -- here it comes -- borne fruit.

Posted by Lee Pender on October 14, 2010 at 11:56 AM0 comments


Google Tests Driverless Car

Here's one for RCPU's Christmas list: a car that drives itself. It's Google's idea, of course, because it makes total sense that a software and search company should be developing and road-testing cars. Anyway, as a long-time Boston driver who still can't find Fenway Park without a GPS, your editor is completely in favor of this development.

But while these cars have apparently navigated some streets in San Francisco and highways in California, can they make it through the one-way streets of Cambridge, Mass., in September when students' moving vans are double-parked all over town? That'll be the real test for these machines. Chapeau, by the way, to your editor's brother-in-law, who sent this article over the weekend.

Posted by Lee Pender on October 13, 2010 at 11:56 AM1 comments


Microsoft-Adobe Rumors Swirl

We're not totally sure how to digest this bit of information -- hence the brevity of this entry -- but rumors continue to pop up regarding Microsoft making a move to buy Adobe. In case you hadn't heard by now, apparently the two companies were in secret talks that are now not so secret. The market is all excited about this, as you might imagine. But remember, Microsoft buying Yahoo was once a done deal, too, until it wasn't.

Posted by Lee Pender on October 13, 2010 at 11:56 AM0 comments


Windows Phone 7 Wins Over Critics

We do a lot of reflecting here at RCPU. And we're not just talking about contemplation here. We try as best we can to be something of a mirror on the industry, particularly where Microsoft partners are concerned. That is to say that we try to consolidate and present in this space various observers' views -- as well as our own, of course -- on different topics.

That's why we're surprised at a lot of the reaction to Windows Phone 7, which Microsoft launched Monday on a semi-holiday here in the U.S. that RCPU actually had off of work. We had read over and over (and we had mentioned more than a few times) that the popular perception of Windows 7 among supposed experts was that it would be a dud the day it came out, woefully behind the iPhone and Android operating systems. That sounded totally plausible to us given Microsoft's recent history in the mobile market, so we bought into that view.

Then Monday happened, and everything changed -- at least from what we can tell. Instead of reading about how Windows Phone 7 was another failure by Microsoft to create a compelling mobile OS, we saw headlines full of praise for Redmond. The trade press got on board, as did the business press and industry analysts. Heck, even the great Stephen Fry, the noted English actor, author and humorist who is a famous Mac disciple, had kind -- and apparently unsolicited -- words to say about Microsoft's new OS.

So, what are we to make of all this? Did Windows Phone 7 really blow everybody away at its launch? Did it merely surpass, fairly easily, expectations that were pretty low to begin with? Or is a contrite technology community simply acknowledging -- and not even all that grudgingly -- that Microsoft took something that it has mostly gotten wrong in the past and actually got it pretty much right?

Honestly, we have no idea. Your editor is a bit of a phone Luddite and hasn't played with Windows Phone 7. And, clearly, it's way too early to know whether Microsoft has produced something here that could make a serious impact on a hypercompetitive market. But, hey, if Windows Phone 7 isn't lousy, if it's actually pretty good, that's all the better for Microsoft and Microsoft partners. We're still skeptic al about Microsoft's need to produce a mobile OS at all, but if Redmond is going to take the time to create one it might as well be good. And maybe Windows Phone 7 is...maybe.

What's your initial impression of Windows Phone 7? Will you buy a device with the new OS on it? Send your answers to [email protected]

Posted by Lee Pender on October 13, 2010 at 11:56 AM5 comments


Ballmer Talks Up Cloud Vision

Let's forget for a moment that Microsoft is very likely to embarrass itself with the Windows Phone 7 launch next week and try to focus on something positive. Steve Ballmer this week re-re-re-reiterated Microsoft's commitment to the cloud.

This time, he did it in Sweden, no doubt with pickled herring and outrageously priced alcohol for everybody. (What a beautiful city Stockholm is, though. So clean you could eat off the sidewalk, if you could stand to eat pickled herring.)

He also told a crowd in Germany (just in time for Oktoberfest, eh, Steve -- or does that still actually happen in late September?) that Microsoft is investing billions of dollars in data centers. On top of all that, Microsoft made its first official acquisition of 2010 this week, snapping up a company called AviCode whose products, in part, monitor cloud applications.

Although he clearly planned well in advance to say these things, Ballmer's timing in talking about the cloud is good, given Goldman Sachs's recent sage advice (eye roll here) about how Microsoft should be more involved in cloud technologies. There's no word on whether Ballmer used a one-finger or two-finger salute when referring to Goldman, as the custom is different in the U.S. and Europe. (OK, OK...so he didn't mention Goldman, as far as we've read, and he probably didn't "salute" at all. We kind of figure that he wanted to, though.)

All of this cloud stuff is good stuff, of course, although it remains to be seen how a large swatch of Microsoft partners will fit into Redmond's cloud strategy in a practical sense. In any case, we're much more comfortable with Ballmer talking enterprise technology than we will be when he takes the stage in New York next week.

Is Microsoft on the right path in the cloud? Why or why not? Send your thoughts to [email protected]

Posted by Lee Pender on October 07, 2010 at 11:56 AM2 comments


IBM Launches Notes for the Cloud

The new offering is called LotusLive Notes, in cooperation with what must be some sort of law about using the word "Live" in hosted offerings...

Posted by Lee Pender on October 07, 2010 at 11:56 AM0 comments


IE Market Share Drops Below 50 Percent

Another sign that Microsoft is on the brink of failure -- or maybe that IE just isn't the best browser out there anymore.

Posted by Lee Pender on October 07, 2010 at 11:56 AM2 comments


MSP Alliance Starts Group of Angel Investors

Budding MSPs, your gift from heaven is here. MSP Alliance has put together a network of angel investors to help you get your business interests off the ground and, um, into the cloud, we suppose.

Posted by Lee Pender on October 06, 2010 at 11:56 AM0 comments


Microsoft's Tablet PCs: How Bad Will They Be?

It's a terrible reaction, isn't it? We just can't help but have it, though. Every time Microsoft comes out with something aimed at tackling an Apple consumer blockbuster, we just cringe. The Zune still looms large in our consciousness here at RCPU.

And so we wait impatiently for Microsoft's slate computers, which Steve Ballmer says that we will see -- in some form or another; he didn't specify how -- by Christmas. We're impatient not because we want to run out and buy one but because we can't wait to start making fun of them.

Oh, come on. There's precedent here. The Zune. The Kin. Anything in the mobile space, for that matter. Outside of the Xbox, which still isn't a moneymaker in Redmond, Microsoft just isn't good at making "cool" technologies. Apple is -- witness the (apparently unprecedented) rapidity with which consumers have adopted the iPad.

So, we're pretty sure that Microsoft's Windows tablet -- or slate, or whatever -- will be embarrassingly lame and way behind the efforts of its competition, kind of the way Windows Phone 7 will be when it debuts next week. And we wonder again: Does Microsoft really need to do this? Is there anything wrong with being an enterprise-technology company first and foremost?

After all, iPad sales aren't really hurting PC sales at all. People don't just buy an iPad. They buy an iPad, a laptop, a smart phone, maybe even an iPod -- all sorts of things to use at the same time. Look around your house or your office. Have you consolidated all of your computing -- recreational and professional -- onto one machine?

We here at RCPU sure haven't. And next time we buy a smartphone or a music player (the notion of a tablet has no appeal to us), we likely won't buy a Windows device. But your editor's year-old netbook runs XP, and the next laptop that enters this house will almost assuredly be a Windows machine, as will the next PC that your editor's company doles out to him (if that ever happens again).

Microsoft, with some smart management, could thrive as an enterprise-focused company and leave the low-hanging consumer fruit to competitors. We've been banging this drum for a while now, and we're going to keep banging it -- particularly this holiday season, when Microsoft's tablet is sure to have the appeal of stale fruitcake.

Would you buy a Windows tablet? What would persuade you to purchase one? Sound off at [email protected]cpmag.com.

Posted by Lee Pender on October 06, 2010 at 11:56 AM17 comments


Microsoft Putting the Squeeze on Smaller Partners

If it seems as though this is happening, that's because it is. Microsoft is, to an ever greater extent, turning its back on the little guy in favor of huge systems integrators and other global partners. What's a smaller shop to do? And what will the consequences of Microsoft's actions be? Andrew Brust has some answers.

Posted by Lee Pender on October 06, 2010 at 11:56 AM0 comments


RCP's 11 Things To Know about the Microsoft Partner Network

 If you're a Microsoft partner, you need to read this. Now. Seriously, click on it before you do anything else. The title says it all

Posted by Lee Pender on October 06, 2010 at 11:56 AM0 comments