I attended the Microsoft annual Worldwide Partners Conference last week in Toronto and it was quite an experience. I’ve been to several of these in the past and I can tell you this WPC was special.
It’s easy to have a love-hate relationship with Microsoft and it’s easy to get frustrated at times dealing with them. However, in all fairness, it’s getting easy to “love” them, they are on the move in all the right direction.
In addition to general sessions, I was invited to attend a few invitation-only sessions. What I learned was amazing; here are a few of my observations:
1. In the last year Microsoft purchased Skype, Yammer and launched the Windows Store. Yammer finally brings a social network to Microsoft that will help meet the needs of even their largest corporate clients.
2. Steve Ballmer made it clear in his keynote speech that the upcoming (October 2012) release of Windows 8 will be a game changer for years to come. Tami Reller – VP & CFO of Windows personally demonstrated Windows 8 on a dozen different devices. She then took a 32GB USB stick that had here entire personal Windows 8 system, profile and documents, plugged it into a PC with Windows 7. The entire Air Canada arena saw the Windows 7 PC boot up Windows 8, load all of Tami’s settings and she accessed her documents in SkyDrive in moments.
3. Windows 8 also includes the Metro interface that brings a rich touch environment to Windows. Metro won’t be practical for heavy data processing applications where a keyboard and mouse are tough to beat, however for presentations, executive inquiry and mobile it is fabulous. Applications that run on Windows 7 will run on Windows 8. We also learned that Windows 7 now accounts for 50% of all Windows installs worldwide. Microsoft knows that Windows 8 will take a while to roll-out to the level of even Windows 7, but they needed one platform that would scale across all platforms and devices, Servers, PC’s, tablets and phones.
4. Enterprise applications are starting to incorporate “gaming like” features into their user-interfaces making for an improved client experience. This along with Microsoft Kinect technology and multi-touch navigation will open up new worlds of productivity applications over time.
5. Microsoft Office 365, now running on Microsoft’s Azure cloud will also be a game changer. Enterprise customers are already adopting the model to keep one system running possibly forever without the normal “version upgrade” headaches. Microsoft sales reps worldwide now have a line item in their performance quotas that require the sales of both Office 365 and Windows 8, pressure to upgrade to these will be intense.
6. Speaking of Azure, Microsoft’s cloud offering is immediately on par or even superior to both Amazon’s and Google’s cloud offering. You’ll see more vendors offering highly affordable solutions on Azure. Vendors just can’t run private clouds at the cost Microsoft is selling Azure for. Whether you use Azure for just disaster recovery, or run apps from it, it is one of the most technically superior clouds available today, and somewhat a best kept secret.
7. At Aderant we have already moved our Deadlines.com business to Azure and more announcements will be coming shortly. Stop by ILTA and see more products running on Azure.
8. Last but no least on my list is the explosive growth of Microsoft Dynamics, including CRM. Aderant was recognized as a top 5% of all worldwide Microsoft partners by being named to the Dynamics President’s Club. Aderant CRM4Legal is built on this technically superior platform and is now starting to take market share. By the way, Microsoft Dynamics CRM is also available on Azure at an affordable per user/monthly fee.
9. Microsoft Office 15 is still on target to ship before the end of 2012 and will have Windows 8 Metro screens in addition to the ribbon tool bars we are now learning to use.
In summary Microsoft is in a definite “love” phase and the next 12 months looks quite exciting.