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Image Gallery: 10 Drivers For Microsoft Surge In 2010

Start with Windows 7, Office 2010, and SharePoint 2010 then add hybrid, on-premise/cloud options for productivity apps, enterprise apps, development and processing power and Microsoft has the makings for a big year.

The Windows 7 operating system (with the new Task Bar feature, seen here) has sold more than 100 million licenses since launch in October '09. Corporate buyers who passed on Vista are now primed to retire aging XP machines, and each replacement PC is also a candidate for an update to Microsoft Office 2010.

The 2010 version of Microsoft Office faces more serious competition than the suite has seen since Word surpassed WordPerfect in the '90s. But even an aggressive Google, with low-priced Google Docs and Apps competition, will not prevent hundreds of millions of upgrades to the latest productivity platform.

Outlook 2010 gains the ribbon interface (finally matching the rest of Office) and exposes tools to compress or ignore threads, categorize and file messages, and clean up the inbox. A Social Connector feature delivered through Exchange links personal profiles, presence awareness, e-mail, messaging and telephony.

SharePoint is another $1 billion-plus franchise for Microsoft, and the just-released 2010 release will stoke yet more upgrades. Of the six areas of functionality, collaboration (via intranet and extranet Web sites and communities), content management and search are the heaviest uses of the product.

SharePoint 2010 amps up business intelligence functionality with an improved Dashboard Designer and bundled-in Performance Point services for publishing scorecards (as seen here) with key performance indicators that let everyone see results and align around agreed-upon objectives and strategy.

Microsoft is gaining database marketshare with SQL Server 2008. The R2 upgrade released in April includes a PowerPivot for Excel add-in (seen here) that supports fast, in-memory analysis of huge data sets. R2 also streamlines admin so DBAs can centrally manage multiple database instances and related assets.

Microsoft likes to say it's "all in" when it comes to cloud computing, but its key appeal across several product lines is that it can support hybrid on-premise and cloud-based delivery so customers have the flexibility and choice to move between modes.

Microsoft's cloud-delivery story starts with The Business Productivity Online Suite (BPOS), which combines Exchange Online, SharePoint Online, Office Live Meeting, and Office Communications Online. It's also the gateway to Live Office, including the Word Web app, seen here delivered through SharePoint Online.

Microsoft is bolstering hybrid cloud options for Dynamics enterprise applications. Dynamics CRM Online goes global this year with multi-language support and services through new European and Asian data centers. Discounts let Dynamics GP (ERP) users add CRM Online at the aggressive price of $19 per user, per month.

The platform supporting Microsoft's cloud strategy is Azure, pay-per-use computing and storage offered from a virtualized, multi-tenant IT infrastructure. Azure services include SQL Azure, a cloud version of the SQL Server database. Azure won't drive serious revenue, but gives it a foothold in the emerging cloud platform market.

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