Partner Advocate

Gloom and Doom

Stormclouds loom on the partner horizon.

Last month I looked at reasons to be bullish on being a partner with Microsoft. As promised, this month, I'm doing a quick survey of the stormclouds on the horizon.

When you're looking for trouble, there's probably no better place to start than with the boilerplate section in a Microsoft 10-Q Securities & Exchange Commission filing titled "Risk Factors."

The October 2006 filing, for example, included Microsoft's standard litany of potential doom, including having its source code stolen, losing lawsuits, etc.

However, a few points in this legally required exercise in paranoia would affect Microsoft's network of 600,000 partners as well. For example, here's this one: "Sales channel disruption, such as the bankruptcy of a major distributor." Less explicitly channel-oriented, but more reflective of current trends that partners should be thinking about, are the following risk-oriented nuggets gleaned from the 10-Q:

Open Source Software: "To the extent open source software gains increasing market acceptance, sales of our products may decline, we may have to reduce the prices we charge for our products, and revenue and operating margins may consequently decline."

Security: "Security vulnerabilities in our products could lead to reduced revenues or to liability claims." Enough said.

Software as a Service: "We're devoting significant resources toward developing our own Software as a Service [SaaS] strategies. It's uncertain whether these strategies will prove successful."

You can look elsewhere in this issue for more on how SaaS is shaking out ("Clash of Titans" and "Channel Surfing for Partners"); the SaaS trend is definitely critical for partners to watch.

There's a related issue here, too: the growing importance of the browser as the application platform. Microsoft fought off this development by beating back Netscape. But Windows Vista, with its underlying pillars for developers, strikes me as an effort to buy more time for the smart, thick desktop -- as opposed to the "cloud" -- as the center of the user's computing world. But the game is tougher now with the ubiquity of broadband.

What do you think are the biggest challenges for Microsoft? Have I missed a whopper? Let me know at sbekker@rcpmag.com.

TechPartner Invitation
I hope to see you later this month at Redmond Channel Partner's inaugural TechPartner Conference in Orlando, Fla. Robert Deshaies, VP of Microsoft's U.S. Partner Group, will deliver the keynote at this independent event. For details, visit TechMentorEvents.com/partner.

About the Author

Scott Bekker is editor in chief of Redmond Channel Partner magazine.