Software // Enterprise Applications
Commentary
9/1/2005
06:00 PM
Barbara Darrow
Barbara Darrow
Commentary
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Microsoft's Mid-Market Muddle

When Microsoft announces a for-real mid-market suite SKU next week, one can only hope it does a better job than it has for its current mid-market bundle, er promotion.

When Microsoft announces a for-real mid-market suite SKU next week, one can only hope it does a better job than it has for its current mid-market bundle, er promotion.

For a company once noted for sticking to its knitting, Microsoft's marketing and PR effort seems to be falling apart at the seams, so to speak.

At a CMP-sponsored event last week, a Microsoft exec announced a "new promotion" called Windows Server System for Midsize Business. (Microsoft's not-very-catchy product names are the subject for another day.)

CRN reported this, along with the fact that the promotion targeting 50 to 250 PCs would cost $6,444 per server. The slides helpfully point out this would be available as of October 1 through Microsoft Open Value and the pricing reflected a 20 percent discount over Open pricing.

Here's a verbatim quote: "October 1, we're releasing to the marketplace a Windows Server bundle for the midmarket customer. This will have three windows servers, Microsoft exchange and Microsoft Operations Manager. It'll work seamlessly together and also have 50 client access licenses. Together priced at 20 percent less [of what the component pieces would be.]

The exec also referred to "a new promotional CAL" for $76.50, and talked about new guidance on how to set up Windows Server System using Microsoft best practices, a Web site for the IT of medium-sized businesses to identify the right solution.

Now, aside from the fact that all this was labeled "new", and that attending partners—as well as a half dozen contacted subsequently--had never heard the pricing, this actually did seem kinda new.

Everyone agrees that Microsoft had talked generally about a midmarket Windows server offering at its Worldwide Partner Conference in July. But after last week's story appeared, Microsoft's PR corps said none of this "new" data, was actually new. Not the pricing, not the discount, not the "new" CAL. Nada.

But wait. Maybe the pricing was new. They weren't sure. Back and forth. The exec had been on vacation and out of the loop blah blah blah.

This all begs the question of one long-time partner who had never heard of the pricing or new CAL: "If it were an effective promotion, people would know about it. And how can a promotion be effective if it's in stealth mode? This was obviously not well communicated."

An even better question for Microsoft: If your own people don't know what's new, how are the rest of us supposed to figure it out?

Keep this in mind next week when the company talks more about an ACTUAL mid-market bundle, due God-knows-when but likely in the Longhorn server era of 2007. Hopefully it will sport actual integration. And hopefully they'll do a better job explaining it.

Don't call it a bundle though. Apparently there is some concern that the feds might object.

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