Redmond Untangles WEBS

Windows Essential Business Server, we hardly knew ye. In fact, not many customers knew ye at all. As Scott Bekker explains, the mid-market-focused EBS (we only call it “WEBS” because we like making references to actual webs) never really found a niche. And its late-2008 introduction couldn’t possibly have come at a worse time for the economy. Microsoft hyped this thing big time a couple of years ago, but Redmond and its partners just couldn’t spin enough of an argument for WEBS to convince customers to get stuck into it. So, Microsoft is clearing away WEBS and will make up for its absence with other servers and capabilities.

Posted by Lee Pender on March 08, 20100 comments

An Easy Patch Tuesday

March comes in like a lamb for Patch Tuesday, with only a couple of important fixes on the slate.

Posted by Lee Pender on March 08, 20100 comments

EMC Exec: The Cloud Is All About Security

This doesn't seem like the least obvious point someone could make (or has made) about cloud computing, but it's probably a good one to keep in mind, anyway.

Posted by Lee Pender on March 04, 20100 comments

Novell Mulls Acquisition Offer

Novell, a company now based in your editor's city of current residence (Waltham, Mass.) has a suitor. A hedge fund based in New York (Boo! Just kidding) wants to buy the one-time Microsoft rival and current Microsoft patent partner for $2 billion.

Novell is...thinking about it, we suppose, but meanwhile a bidding war among bigger tech vendors could be in the offing. Exciting times in Waltham.

Posted by Lee Pender on March 04, 20100 comments

Windows 7 Is the Fastest-Selling OS Ever...But Who Cares?

We've mentioned this before, but it's been a while, so bear with us. When public companies report quarterly earnings, they love to trumpet "record revenues" as if it's some sort of accomplishment. It isn't, really.

Every company should have record revenues every quarter (measured year-over-year, anyway) because anything short of a record represents a revenue shortfall. And a shortfall could be a signal that the company is in major trouble -- or at least going through perilously tough times. So, chirping about "record revenues" can be a classically corporate, totally overblown, fairly arrogant way of saying, "We still have our heads above water." It's good news, but it's rarely as good as the press release headline makes it sound.

And so it is with new versions of Windows. This week, Microsoft called Windows 7 the fastest-selling operating system in history and announced that the OS had hit the 90 million mark in units sold. Great! But shouldn't every new Microsoft OS be the fastest-selling OS in history at this point? Think about it: Microsoft still has 90-ish percent market share in the OS game, and PC sales tend to increase every year (even in 2009; more on that later). So, each new version of Windows should sell "faster" (that is to say, should move more units in a shorter amount of time) than the last one did.

Remember, Vista was also the fastest-selling OS in history back in 2007 -- according to Microsoft, anyway. And it probably was. Still, within a year or so of its release, Microsoft couldn't possibly run fast enough in the other direction from Vista, which will go down as one of the great tech industry failures of all time (and maybe one of the great product failures, period). So, don't get too excited when Microsoft talks about any version of Windows being the fastest-selling in history. That should be the norm, not the exception. And fastest-selling, as we know, doesn't come close to translating to most-used.

However, we need to give Microsoft some credit here. Windows 7 is an excellent product that has pulled the company out of the Vista doldrums both financially and in terms of reputation. It has surely been a boost for partners, who now have a stronger Microsoft product along with a stronger Microsoft vision and brand to sell. And 90 million is an impressive number at this point in Windows 7's life, especially given that (in all likelihood -- we haven't quantified this), very few users are downgrading from 7 to Vista the way many did from Vista back to XP. Windows 7 is a success, and it'll be Microsoft's next great OS. It's a good thing. Let's establish that now.

Nevertheless, the whole fastest-selling claim is still a tad overblown -- although probably not inaccurate. Granted, the 60 million data point for Vista came from Redmond about six months after Microsoft released the OS. Windows 7, which Microsoft unleashed in October of last year, has been out closer to five months and has already hit the 90 million mark, Microsoft says. But check out the numbers on PC shipments. Gartner says that 271.2 million PCs shipped in 2007, compared to 306 million in 2009 (and 291 million in 2008).

Interestingly enough, the difference between the 2007 and 2009 numbers does come out to more than 30 million -- and 30 million is the difference, Microsoft says, between Vista sales after six months of availability and Windows 7 sales in the same time frame. Now, Vista was available for almost all of 2007, whereas Windows 7 didn't appear until October 2009. (We do realize, too, that not everybody who buys a copy of a new OS buys it pre-loaded on a new PC. But lots of people do.) However, the fourth quarter of 2009 was when PC sales really skyrocketed, which means that most of the computers sold in that time period had Windows 7, not Vista, loaded on them.

Did Windows 7 have an impact on increased PC sales? It's extremely likely that it did. It's a very popular OS among users. But there is a chicken-and-egg argument here. Was it Windows 7 that boosted the worldwide PC market, or did a slightly less horrible economy and a strong fourth quarter for PC sales boost Windows 7's numbers? The answer is likely a little bit of both. But the underlying point here is that nobody should be too excited about Microsoft trumpeting the fastest-selling OS of all time six months into the OS's availability. In fact, if ever a 6-month-old version of Windows is not the fastest-selling OS of all time, Microsoft and its partners should probably panic -- big time.

How impressed are you by Windows 7 sales? How much of a difference has Windows 7 made for your business? Send your thoughts to [email protected].  

Posted by Lee Pender on March 04, 20103 comments

Some Euros Still Not Happy with Le Browser Menu

Microsoft's browser ballot screen is under fire for not having enough side dishes or something. Actually, this time, Web developers are claiming that there aren't enough rendering engines offered. Good night. See what happens when government starts messing with private enterprise when it shouldn't?  

Posted by Lee Pender on March 04, 20100 comments

Google, Kansas (Unofficially)

Hoping to lure some business from the West Coast, the capital of the great state of Kansas, Topeka, has kind of sort of renamed itself Google. (Your editor was actually in Topeka last summer and had a nice meal there.) Apparently, Google might look to Topeka -- uh, we mean Google, Kansas, of course -- as a test site for an ultrafast Internet connection. It would be the first ultrafast thing in Kansas.

Just kidding; we're actually big fans of the Sunflower State here at RCPU. Good luck, Google, Kansas.

Posted by Lee Pender on March 03, 20101 comments

Microsoft Looking at VBScript Security Hole

This mainly involves older versions of Windows -- but one of them is XP.

Posted by Lee Pender on March 03, 20100 comments

Time Runs Out on Windows 7 RC

Windows 7 release candidate fans, the free ride is over. (In fact, it was over two days ago.) If you want to keep rolling with the 7, you're going to have to pay up. It's probably worth it, though.

Posted by Lee Pender on March 03, 20100 comments

What Does Microsoft Know About You?

Your editor is working on a story for Redmond magazine about Microsoft and privacy -- specifically, about what Microsoft knows about its users and does with the information it collects. Do you have an inside take on how Microsoft is siphoning information back to Redmond? Are you concerned about privacy issues with technology companies in general and with Microsoft in particular? Or do you think all of this privacy stuff is overblown? Which do you think is scarier when it comes to collecting information on users, Microsoft or Google?

Answer one, all or none of those questions (you can just make a general comment if you'd like) at [email protected]. And don't worry; we we'll contact you and get your express permission (and probably some more comments) before using your name in print. Thanks.

Posted by Lee Pender on March 03, 201010 comments

Get Yourself Noticed with an Award from Microsoft

Microsoft has a lot of partners. Really, a lot. The latest number, if we're remembering this correctly, is upwards of 600,000. That's a crowd.

And it's not easy for partners to separate themselves from that crowd. But Microsoft does offer one outlet for channel players to get their names called on a big stage: the Worldwide Partner Conference 2010 Awards. Microsoft is accepting submissions now for the WPC 2010 gongs, which it'll dole out at this year's conference in Washington, D.C.

These things are actually a big deal, not just because they can get a partner company's name out of relative obscurity, but because Microsoft loves the partners that win these awards. (That's why they win, we suppose.) The point here is that winning a WPC award opens up a golden path to some of the biggest and most important names in Redmond. If you worry about how much access you have to Microsoft folks, this is one way to get in with the in crowd.

Given that this year's WPC will be the first held with the Microsoft Partner Network -- rather than the old Partner Program -- presiding, it's bound to garner plenty of attention and curiosity. So, there might be no year like 2010 to take a shot at winning a WPC trophy. Hey, what have you got to lose but a little bit of time filling out a submission? A little time spent now could pay off big-time later. You have until April 2 to state your case for glory.

Have you won a Microsoft partner award? If so, what has it done for your business? Recount your tale at [email protected].

Posted by Lee Pender on March 02, 20100 comments

RCP Reader Survey: Change and Caution in the Channel

The year 2009 stunk for just about everybody, many Microsoft partners included. So, probably the best thing most channel partners can do is power through the last 10 months of 2010 thinking that things simply have to get better -- and that maybe they already are.

But 2010 won't be an uncomplicated year for the Microsoft channel. The mother ship in Redmond is completely revamping its partner program, which isn't even called the Partner Program anymore but now goes by the name Microsoft Partner Network. Oh, and Gold Certified, Certified and Registered? Kiss those old labels goodbye, too, as the hierarchy within the program -- sorry, network -- is all new, as well.

And then there's just general business stuff. Stock markets have mostly taken a turn for the better in 2010, and technology companies are starting to show signs of booming -- or at least not flopping -- after a rough 2009. Still, there's trepidation everywhere -- among consumers, corporate types and partners alike.

All of that is reflected in the latest RCP reader survey, which makes its debut today online and in the March print issue of Redmond Channel Partner. The mood is cautious but not negative, and the attitude toward the sweeping changes in Microsoft's channel organization is decidedly wait-and-see.

Not too surprising, right? Still looking for a reason to click on the link? Well, there's loads of other stuff in there, too -- about revenues, market views and partners' relationships (or lack thereof -- ooh, a teaser!) with Microsoft itself. The RCP reader survey gives you detailed, candid insight into exactly how your peers are doing and what they're thinking. Try getting that out of them at the next Partner Conference.

Posted by Lee Pender on March 01, 20100 comments