Windows Mobile: Bad Product or Bad Marketing?

Rob Enderle ponders this week whether Microsoft could have taken over the world with Windows Mobile if Redmond just made the mobile operating system seem cooler, the way Apple promoted the iPhone. He has a point, of course, but Microsoft is to marketing as Apple is to non-proprietary development (heh heh). Incidentally, a recent Windows Mobile 6.5 update did come with a few new features.

Posted by Lee Pender on December 02, 2009 at 11:56 AM4 comments

Microsoft Cloud Patent Filing Meets Resistance

Redmond's attempt to patent the process by which companies move data between clouds isn't terribly popular with vendor Vordel, which provides a "broker" service that...moves data between clouds.

Also, in case you missed it, private cloud functionality is coming to Azure (we think, anyway), a development likely brought on, notes my boss, Doug Barney, by a lack of trust in vendor-run datacenters among IT folks.

Posted by Lee Pender on December 02, 2009 at 11:55 AM0 comments

IBM Buys Guardium

Guardium makes database application monitoring software and will now be part of the Big Blue empire.

Posted by Lee Pender on December 02, 2009 at 11:55 AM0 comments

Microsoft Security Patch Leads to Death Screen

At least that's what one software company and some users are saying. Redmond's latest patch is (allegedly) crashing computers running all sorts of Windows versions.

One thing to note: Black is the new blue. The famous BSOD has gone dark for the fall, as have some computers, apparently. Anyway, it's now the black screen of death, which seems less colorful and festive than the blue screen.

Posted by Lee Pender on December 01, 2009 at 11:55 AM1 comments

Office 2010 To Launch in June

This is one launch that won't include a ribbon-cutting ceremony, if you know what we mean. Heh heh. Oh, yes, the ribbon will be back and likely more confusing than ever by the middle of next year.

Posted by Lee Pender on December 01, 2009 at 11:56 AM1 comments

Microsoft CFO Leaves

Chris Liddell is moving on, and Microsoft is promoting Redmond veteran Peter Klein into the CFO role.

Posted by Lee Pender on December 01, 2009 at 11:55 AM0 comments

Microsoft: Friendlier or Just Less Threatening?

Your editor is swamped with other responsibilities this week, so expect some short RCPUs. (Yes, we always say that and it never happens, but it's going to happen this week.)

There's an interesting article in the San Francisco Chronicle this week about how Silicon Valley has warmed to Microsoft over the last decade or so. The paper offers a couple of explanations for the thawing of relations between Redmond and the Valley.

First, there's the notion that Microsoft really is a friendlier company, that it was humbled by the U.S. antitrust suit of the '90s and that its leaders decided after that to be more open and friendly with the industry. The second possible explanation is that Microsoft just isn't the threat it used to be and competitors and partners alike don't hate Redmond because, with the importance of the operating system on the decline, there is less about Redmond to hate. Microsoft is old money now, the thinking goes, and the really obnoxious new kids on the block -- as well as the biggest threat to the industry as a whole -- are new money (read: Google).

We're convinced of Microsoft's staying power as a company, but we kind of lean toward explanation No. 2 -- if the issue is binary, which it probably isn't -- as to why Microsoft isn't such a pariah anymore. Sure, Microsoft has opened up to the software industry and open source somewhat (and sometimes) and has introduced some transparency and flexibility into its operations. But Microsoft is like the Dallas Cowboys (and here, your editor sheds a tear): a once-dominant behemoth that's still successful but just doesn't scare competitors the way it used to. Well, OK, Microsoft is a lot more dominant and successful than the Cowboys, but you get what we're going for here.

We're wondering what changes you, Microsoft partners, have perceived in recent years regarding opinions of Microsoft. Is Microsoft -- and are you, as the company's sales force -- meeting less industry resistance these days than you did, say, 10 years ago? Twenty years ago? And, if so, do you think it's because Microsoft has played better with its industry friends or because it's not as scary as Google is now? Or both? Send your thoughts to [email protected]

Posted by Lee Pender on December 01, 2009 at 11:55 AM5 comments Keeps Up the Chatter

Cloud CRM pioneer -- which, incidentally, is doing pretty well financially -- introduced this week a Facebook-like corporate app called Chatter. Naturally, this got us to thinking of the old "Simpsons" episode in which Bart and Lisa have a hockey rivalry (here's a funny scene from it) and Apu tells a forlorn Milhouse to "keep up the chatter!" (True "Simpsons" nerds can find the reference buried somewhere here.)

Anyway, Facebook for work? Isn't that called LinkedIn, and isn't everybody in Sweden already a member of it or something like that? We'll see what, an innovative company, can do with this thing.

Posted by Lee Pender on November 19, 2009 at 11:55 AM0 comments

Microsoft and SAP: Oracle in the Crosshairs

At first glance, this almost seems a little unfair. The ERP market leader and the market leader in almost everything else -- two companies that aren't always the best of friends -- are teaming up to attack Oracle. But Microsoft and SAP have their reasons for getting together.

Oracle is a major ERP player these days and a threat to SAP's market-leading position in the space. (Microsoft wants to be an ERP player, too, but we'll get to that later.) Microsoft, of course, wants to cut into Oracle's massive share of the market for database software. So, Microsoft and SAP have come together in what is essentially a business-intelligence play in which Microsoft -- and its channel, presumably -- will recommend and implement SAP's BusinessObjects BI software for Microsoft customers...with that software running, of course, on Microsoft's database applications. There will also be some cross-sales and cross-promotion-type stuff.

There are a lot of entanglements here, and we wonder at first blush whether Microsoft and SAP are trying too hard to torpedo Captain Larry Ellison's Good Ship Oracle. (Larry's an avid sailor, you know.) First off, what does Microsoft embracing BO (a common abbreviation for BusinessObjects among company insiders -- and, yes, your editor did briefly work there in Paris almost a decade ago) say about Microsoft's own efforts to create a BI platform?

Although the concept for it has never seemed to have much structure, Microsoft has tried to lump together its own BI offering and has even made a few acquisitions over the last few years with development of BI in mind. Is this, then, the end of the Microsoft's half-cooked BI experiment?

Redmond has always talked about baking BI tools into a Microsoft stack rather than offering them as something of a separate entity; there's not really such a thing as "Microsoft BI" (although it would make a good name for a detective show set in Hawai'i). SAP, on the other hand, sells BI software as more of a separate commodity and has given BO some level of autonomy post-acquisition. (The BO name survives, anyway, as do many of BO's employees, who are now on the SAP payroll.)

If Microsoft really is going to send partners into accounts touting BO as Redmond's "preferred" BI software, there seems to be somewhere in that decision an admission that cobbling together BI capabilities has been more difficult and not as profitable as Microsoft thought it would be.

And speaking of things that are cobbled together, what does this agreement mean for Microsoft's Dynamics ERP suites, at least a couple of which feature Microsoft's own BI capabilities already? Does Microsoft now ask its channel members to go into Dynamics accounts pushing BO, at the risk of exposing those companies to SAP on the ERP side? And what of SAP -- which, by the way, uses a hybrid channel and direct sales model -- going on sales calls with representatives of a company that wants to eat away at its position as ERP market leader?

This isn't, of course, the first time that Microsoft and SAP have hooked up, and rumors of Microsoft's desire to buy SAP have persisted for years; only a few months ago, Steve Ballmer was busy quashing them again. Plus, there seems to be little doubt (albeit from biased observers in some cases) that this deal really could take a chunk out of Oracle's two primary business lines.

But at what cost? And why? "Coopetition" is a delicate balance. It should offer more benefit than risk, although there will always be a bit of both involved. The obvious benefit here is that Microsoft and SAP have an excellent opportunity to carve up and conquer Oracle, a frankly brash and unlikeable company (according to RCPU) that, in many ways, embodies the attitude of its CEO.

But in slicing and dicing Oracle, how often will Microsoft and SAP slip and cut each other and themselves? How will they and their partner bases avoid conflicts and stepping on each other's toes? And do the ERP titan and the world's most powerful software company really need to take all these risks to pick on Oracle at this point? We're not so sure. This deal seems to bring Microsoft and SAP too close. So close, in fact, that it might be time to dust off that Microsoft-SAP acquisition rumor again. Just for fun, anyway.

Are Microsoft and SAP going too far to attack Oracle? Sound off at [email protected]

Posted by Lee Pender on November 19, 2009 at 11:55 AM2 comments

A Little Trouble in Big China for Microsoft

More than a little trouble, actually, as Microsoft's loss in an intellectual-property case there could have ramifications for Windows 7.

Posted by Lee Pender on November 19, 2009 at 11:55 AM1 comments

Ozzie Talks Azure at PDC

Microsoft is revealing all sorts of cloud stuff at this week's PDC. If you want to read about it, you'll just have to help drive traffic to the Web site (and, honestly, Mike Desmond's story is very much worth a read). Oh, and by the way, there are new Office and SharePoint betas this week, too.

What we like best about this week's PDC news is that Microsoft now has an Azure-related project code-named Dallas. Dallas is more or less your editor's hometown (it's actually Midlothian for you RCPU trivia buffs out there) and was, of course, the setting for one of the most epic TV dramas of all time.

We at RCPU love the "Dallas" theme song. In fact, we're pretty sure we want it to start playing every time your editor walks into a room. But, upon searching for Dallas stuff, we remembered a great tune about Texas that used to open a popular local human-interest show in DFW. We can't find the original Boston Pops recording of "Hill Country Theme," but a version by the Reivers, out of Austin, isn't bad, or you can hear it with lyrics sung by the legendary Willie Nelson. Yee-haw!

Posted by Lee Pender on November 19, 2009 at 11:55 AM1 comments

Microsoft Opens Windows Mobile Marketplace to More Users

You don't have to be a Windows Mobile 6.5 user to have access to the Marketplace anymore. Anybody on a 6.x platform can now shop for WinMo apps. Granted, given WinMo's market share, that's still not that many people, but hey.

Posted by Lee Pender on November 18, 2009 at 11:55 AM0 comments