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Microsoft Gets Off The Pot (Finally!)

Microsoft has finally stopped dragging its heels on its vague "software + services" strategy and announced today some concrete details on upcoming products and pricing. Here are my initial observations.
Microsoft has finally stopped dragging its heels on its vague "software + services" strategy and announced today some concrete details on upcoming products and pricing. Here are my initial observations.1) Looking at the SaaS offerings -- online versions of Exchange, SharePoint, Communications -- we're getting a better idea of Microsoft's "software + services" philosophy. It's saying mobile, collaborative applications are good for the cloud; Word, PowerPoint, and Excel are best for the desktop. But that's Microsoft's view, of course. When Microsoft or a reseller goes into a corporate account, it still needs to prove there's a reason for a CIO to buy its desktop OS and the applications that need that OS to run well.

2) Mobile versions of Exchange and SharePoint for $3 per user per month? That's hardly a big revenue stream for Microsoft. But at that price, I guess it has a better chance of keeping business users away from Google Docs, free Google and Yahoo e-mail, etc.

3) Offering resellers a 12% cut of SaaS deals the first year and 6% the second year is curious. It could be viewed as a way to get early reseller support behind its SaaS offerings. It also could be viewed as a temporary softening of the blow to resellers of what's going to happen as Microsoft sells more subscription software in future years and less of those big, corporate desktop software deals that yield resellers the big bucks.

By the way, my colleague Nick Hoover (our Microsoft expert) is in Houston right now, meeting with Microsoft Business Division President Stephen Elop at Microsoft's partner conference, and will soon post a story at informationweek.com with all the details about Microsoft's cloud computing efforts. So stay tuned.

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Brian T. Horowitz, Contributing Reporter
Samuel Greengard, Contributing Reporter
Nathan Eddy, Freelance Writer
Brandon Taylor, Digital Editorial Program Manager
Jessica Davis, Senior Editor
Cynthia Harvey, Freelance Journalist, InformationWeek
Sara Peters, Editor-in-Chief, InformationWeek / Network Computing