Microsoft Cloud Strategy Outlined by CEO Ballmer at WPC

By Jessica Davis  |  Print this article Print

Microsoft executives highlighted the company's efforts around cloud computing during keynote addresses at the first day of the Microsoft Worldwide Partner Conference. The statement of Microsoft's cloud strategy comes as the software giant faces more competitive threats on all fronts, including operating systems, and productivity suites from companies such as Google and Apple.

As competitive threats to the world's largest software company have grown, Microsoft Steve Ballmer told IT solution providers at the company's Worldwide Partner Conference, held July 11 to July 15, that they will play a critical role as the industry as a whole moves to the cloud.

Microsoft executives touted the company's 500,000 online seats in applications such as SharePoint, and showcased forthcoming features of Microsoft's Office productivity suite that will link applications to social networking in a way that hasn't been possible before.

Additionally, Ballmer promised a family of PC tablet computers in the months to come that would be based on Windows and go up against the Apple iPad.

"You will see a range of Windows 7 slates," Ballmer told the solution provider representatives who converged on Washington for the conference. "They will run Windows 7. They will run Office. They will accept ink- as well as touch-based input."

While much of computing seems headed for the cloud, the migration has left some channel partners wondering about the business model that will emerge for them out of the change. Those who are used to the upfront payment that comes with an outright hardware or license sale have expressed uncertainty about the annuity type of model that comes with the cloud.

But many consider the en masse move to the cloud for computing to be an inevitability, and Ballmer urged partners to get on board with Microsoft's cloud plans, promising opportunity and support.

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"We are at an inflection point in technology history," Ballmer said. "For customers, cloud computing creates tremendous value, which translates to massive opportunity for Microsoft and its partners. As in past technology transitions, Microsoft will help partners embrace the industry's transformation to realize their opportunity and continue to be economic drivers for their local community."

Analyst company IDC has said the cloud will drive 19 percent of new growth in software spending in 2013 to 2014 and cloud spending will grow five times faster than all applications spending.

Other announcements from Microsoft on the first day of the WPC included the following:

  • A Microsoft Azure Appliance
  • Enhancements to the Microsoft server platform that make it easier for customers and partners to build cloud solutions, including the Release Candidate of the System Center Virtual Machine Manager Self Service Portal 2.0
  • Microsoft Management and Virtualization Solution Incentive and the Private Cloud Deployment Kit, offering financial rewards and guidance to partners as they build virtualization and private cloud solutions
  • The beta release of Windows 7 Service Pack 1 and Windows Server 2008 R2 Service
  • Partnerships with Ingram Micro and Tech Data on Microsoft Online Services.
  • Partnerships with telephone service providers, including Bell Canada and BT, on Microsoft Online Services
Jessica Davis covers the channel for eWeek and Channel Insider. Her technology journalism career began well before anyone heard of the World Wide Web and has included stints at Infoworld, Electronic News/EDN, and the Philadelphia Business Journal. Her work has also appeared on CNN and Forbes.com. She has covered hardware, software and networking, as well as the business side of technology. She has won several journalism awards, including a national ASBPE award for best staff-written column, and was named Marketing Computers hardest working tech journalist on their inaugural list of top tech journalists. Jessica can be reached at jessica.davis@ziffdavisenterprise.com