Channel Watch

Microsoft Product Power Ratings: Build and Ignite Edition

The first five months of 2015 have been marked by nonstop product news from Microsoft, culminating in a pair of back-to-back major conferences. In taking stock of all the announcements, RCP finds that some products have fared better than others.

With Microsoft's two biggest technical conferences of the year, Build and Ignite, in the rearview mirror, it's time to revisit the RCP Product Power Ratings.

Redmond Channel Partner magazine introduced the Power Ratings last September. The idea, as RCPmag.com Senior Site Producer Gladys Rama wrote at the time, was this: "Microsoft partners tend to rely on certain products in the Microsoft stack to anchor their businesses. At the same time, the fortunes and prospects of those products are constantly rising and falling. For this feature we looked at some of the products that are most commonly sold or extended by Microsoft partners, and rated them on a scale of 1 to 10 (with 10 being the best) based on market demand, Microsoft priority, partner incentives and other factors."

As we survey the field of products, we're pretty comfortable with a lot of our existing rankings from September. We didn't hand out any 10s -- that ranking would be reserved for historically white-hot releases, say Windows 95, or, to cite a current competitive example, the Apple iPhone 6. But half a year later and post-Build/Ignite, we stand by our 9 ratings for both Microsoft Azure and Office 365. Microsoft remains committed to cloud, is investing incredible development resources in both product families and is seeing extreme market demand for them.

We're also leaving alone our ratings for most of the on-premises servers. There was some buzz, but nothing earth-shattering around Exchange Server (5), SharePoint Server (5) and System Center (7).

So what changed? The only ranking we dropped was for Dynamics CRM Online. Previously an 8, we're dropping it to a 7. This change is entirely due to the rumors that Microsoft entertained the possibility of bidding for Salesforce.

The biggest mover is the Windows client, going from 6 to 9. Since we introduced the ratings, Microsoft dropped the bombshell of the free upgrades for a year from Windows 7 and Windows 8, new upgrade and patching models, and a host of other changes that upend the PC business. If Microsoft gets anywhere near its goal of 1 billion instances of Windows 10, this will be a monumental shift.

We've also bumped up Lync Server/Skype from 7 to 8, and Windows Phone from a 3 to a 4 -- Lync/Skype because of the May general availability of the hotly anticipated Skype for Business Server, and Windows Phone because of all the changes promised in version 10. Rest assured, we stand ready to bust the phone right back down should Windows 10, like Windows Phone 7.5, Windows Phone 8, Windows Phone 8.1 and the Nokia handset business purchase, prove to have far less impact than promised on market adoption for the mobile OS.

Read the full and updated Microsoft Power Ratings feature here. Think we're off by a point or more on some of these ratings? Sound off at sbekker@rcpmag.com or leave a comment below.

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About the Author

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