Channel Call

Hazarding a Look Ahead

Uncertain financial climate, new U.S. president, new Windows OS -- all on the horizon and bound to affect partners in some way.

January is a logical time to look ahead and make sure your business is on track. In my role with the magazine, I've had the pleasure of talking to hundreds of Microsoft partners over the last few years. At the risk of generalizing, I've always been struck by what a can-do group of people these partners are. But even among the normally optimistic partners I talk to regularly, attitudes toward this coming year feel different. It's a scary economy with a tremendous amount of uncertainty, plenty of challenges and no clear end in sight.

In this first issue of 2009, we're taking a look at the uncertain headwinds of the new year and trying to come back with some practical tips for partner success over the next 12 months.

  • Our Marching Orders feature is the third installment of our popular, annual special report, and, as always, it's chock-full of expert business advice for the coming year. We've talked to leaders from throughout the Microsoft channel ecosystem, all of whom have looked into their crystal balls and provided their best suggestions for partner companies in 2009.

Foremost on the mind of partners, analysts, consultants and Microsoft executives in this year's collection, obviously, is survival in a recession. What's most interesting is that nearly every one of our contributors found some kind of opportunity despite the ongoing uncertainty. We hope their insights will help you discover ways to make something positive happen in the year ahead.

  • Aside from one of the worst economies in recent memory, 2009 brings another historic event. On Jan. 20, the United States will swear in the first new presidential administration in eight years. Barack Obama has radically different attitudes toward government and technology than those of George W. Bush, and that's shaping up to be a major factor for partners who list government agencies among their clients. Our cover story digs into the technology landscape of an Obama administration.
  • Technology isn't standing still until the economy recovers. Late last year, Microsoft held one of the most significant Professional Developers Conferences in recent memory. The company announced Windows Azure and the Azure Services Platform, which have major implications for nearly every existing channel business model. The company also took some of the wrappings off the next Windows client operating system, Windows 7. In this issue, we try to help you get out in front of these technological changes.

As always, challenges and opportunities come flying at us at the same time-kind of like that mini-game in Wii Fit where you try to head the soccer balls and dodge the shoes. We'll do the best we can to help you sort the soccer balls from the shoes. And if you're developing any useful tactics for getting by, let me know at [email protected]. We'll share your advice in these pages or at

About the Author

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