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Hasta La Vista, Longhorn

Microsoft last week laid to rest the code name Longhorn by unveiling the official name of its next Windows operating system: Windows Vista. I didn’t immediately take to the name, but it’s growing on me, especially after reading Scott Bekker’s story that details the dictionary definitions of the word. Allow me to add another to what Scott has, specifically the third definition of vista from my ridiculously heavy Webster’s Unabridged Dictionary: “a far-reaching mental view: vistas of the future.” Sounds like something I could use. Beta 1, which is targeted at developers and IT pros, ships next week.

Check out Scott’s story here. From there you can link to the Vista home page and the name announcement video.

A Rosy Revenue Story – with Exceptions
Microsoft last Thursday reported strong financial results for its fiscal 2005 fourth quarter and full year, both of which ended June 30. For the year, net income grew 50 percent, to $12.25 billion, on revenue of $39.8 billion. That is a ton of growth—which of course means all you partners are doing something right. And CFO Chris Liddell is bullish for more to come. “We expect double digit revenue growth next year, kicking off the strongest multi-year product pipeline in the company's history,” he said in a statement.

A notable exception to the profit rule is Microsoft Business Solutions, which lost $201 million for the year, although that’s down from $315 million last year—a reduction of 36 percent. Doug Burgum, senior vice president of the Business Solutions Business Group, addressed that topic during a press conference earlier this month at the Microsoft Worldwide Partner Conference. The fact that MBS isn’t making money doesn’t mean it isn’t making progress against its goals, he said, noting the group still sees itself as being in investment mode. “We have lost all the money that we’ve been asked to lose every year,” Burgum said. Microsoft’s long-term goal is to grab a significant share of a market that he says has the potential to reach $60 billion.

In that respect, MBS represents an opportunity for partners with competencies, including Information Worker, to add additional revenue. Judging by demos throughout the conference showing tight integration between products such as Great Plains and Office, Burgum could well be on to something. One such demo showed how clicking on an e-mail sent from a customer can bring up all transactions for that customer. Another showed how the Outlook calendar can be tied in to the Great Plains human resources system, enabling a vacation request, for example, to kick off an automated series of approvals. Pretty slick.

Partner Conference Redux
If you weren’t able to attend the Worldwide Partner Conference earlier this month, or just want to make sure you didn’t miss anything, on its Partner site Microsoft has lots of information on all the news, resources and awards it announced at the event. Partner Program registration is required for that site, but anyone can read the Q&A with Allison Watson, vice president of the Worldwide Partner Group, on the general Microsoft site, in which she expounds on topics including the importance of partnering with other partners and some of the new product-specific resources available to partners.

More on Partnering
Partners partnering with each other was the topic of the cover story for the premier issue of Redmond Channel Partner magazine, which debuted at the Partner Conference.

And to make sure you don’t miss an issue, subscribe to the magazine here.

I’m also interested in your thoughts on the magazine as a whole or on particular articles. Feel free to drop me a line at pdesmond@rcpmag.com or let me know through our online feedback system. If you’re willing, your comments might appear in our next Letters page.

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Compliance: Your Foot in the Door
Manakoa Services Corp. sprang to life from a project its CEO, Robert Williams, worked on in the wake of the anthrax attacks a few years ago. Williams is a security expert and Microsoft security MVP with some 30 years of experience, much of it with the federal government. One of his government contacts hired him to develop risk management models to assess where contaminated equipment and letters may have gone. That same risk management model is now the foundation for the tools Manakoa offers to help companies assess whether they’re in compliance with regulations including Sarbanes Oxley, GLBA and HIPAA. The tools run as an extension to Microsoft Operations Manager (MOM) and also employ SQL Server and Windows Server 2003. The way Williams sees it, that means partners can get in the door with customers in a new way—by talking about compliance, and in the process leverage additional Microsoft software sales and services.

Virtual Earth Beta Debuts
I don’t see much of a partner opportunity in Microsoft’s MSN Virtual Earth, the beta version of which debuted on Sunday, but it’s certainly fun to play with and is an example of some pretty cool technology. Virtual Earth marries a mapping tool with aerial photography, so you can zoom in on any address from a satellite image. You can also find area businesses—all the pizza joints in the area, for example. The idea is the images will help you find your way in an unfamiliar location. I’m not convinced it will do that, as I had a hard time identifying the buildings surrounding the one I work in every day. But it was pretty cool, and maybe a little scary, to zoom in on my house so close I swear I could pick out the rear deck. (Not so with Google Maps, although Google’s color maps look nicer.) I was so impressed I sent the link to our art guy, but it wouldn’t work on his Mac—from either IE or Safari.

Tip of the Day
Here is yet another leftover from the Worldwide Partner Conference. During his keynote address, Chris Capossela, Microsoft corporate vice president of the Information Worker product management group, announced the Office 12 challenge. Any partner that gains the IW competency by Nov. 1 will get beta 1 of Office 12.

The challenge serves two purposes for Microsoft: It helps the company make good on its goal of a four-fold increase in the number of partners with the IW competency while helping educate those partners on Office 12.

Capossela promises to make “far more” technical information available on Office 12 at the Professional Developers Conference in September in Los Angeles.

Posted by Paul Desmond on July 27, 2005 at 11:53 AM


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