October 17, 2006 11:00 AM PDT

Microsoft aims to get partners Vista-ready

As it prepares for the mainstream launch of new versions of Office and Windows, Microsoft wants to give its partners a little more punch.

Under one new program, Microsoft is paying for telephone calls to its customers to pitch its partners' products for Windows Vista, while another program is helping partners take their work overseas. Microsoft gave details of both efforts at a July conference for partners, but is announcing the programs publicly this week.

It's all part of the company's effort to make sure it gets plenty of bang for its buck when it releases the updates to its flagship products. Microsoft hasn't had a new version of Windows to tout for five years, having released Windows XP in October 2001.

Given the growth in PC sales since then, the upcoming launch represents an unprecedented opportunity for those who build products on top of Microsoft's software, said Allison Watson, vice president of Microsoft's partner group.

"They are betting their business on Vista because 250 million units are expected to ship on new PCs in the next 24 months," Watson said. "Never before has there been that kind of momentum on an operating system."

The company says there are already 300 software titles that are designed to work with the new Office and with Vista. Another 2,700 applications should be ready by the January launch of Windows Vista, while 4,000 more should come within 12 months, Watson said.

Office 2007 is scheduled to be broadly released in "early 2007." Microsoft had originally hoped to have both Vista and the Office update widely available this year, and it is still planning to make both products available to large businesses before the end of the year.

Watson didn't break out the amount of marketing dollars specifically going to partners for the launch of Office and Vista. She did say that Microsoft spends about $2 billion a year on its partners, including marketing dollars and the cost of its own employees that work in that area.

Microsoft gets the lion's share of both earnings and revenue from Windows and Office.

Separately, Microsoft on Tuesday announced a new set of services for businesses that use Windows. It is charging $10 a year, per computer, for its Desktop Optimization Pack. One piece, which helps companies spread out their applications across multiple computers and is dubbed "SoftGrid," will ship in January. The rest of the software, which includes tools for tracking PCs and other tools for spotting and fixing PC problems, will ship later, but in the first half of next year, Microsoft said.

The tools represent a combination of internal work, as well as products Microsoft got through its purchases of Softricity, Winternals and AssetMetrix. Microsoft bought AssetMetrix in April, Softricity in May, and Winternals in July. The new service is an add-on to the company's existing Software Assurance program and requires companies to already be taking part in one of Microsoft's volume licensing programs.

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Softricity Inc., AssetMetrix, launch, Microsoft Office, Microsoft Windows Vista

8 comments

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Must be nice...
... to have all the cash in the world to push out crap via your
monopolistic pipeline.

CNET, among other reviewers, say Vista isn't really ready for
prime time. I've used both RC1 and RC2, along with Office 2007,
and am amazed at how it has managed to take the most
annoying parts of previous OSes, add a few new ones, and
theme it out in an attempt to play catch up to OS X.

Lipstick on a pig, indeed!

If an IT person with any sense of decency would put the same
effort into moving away from MS 'solutions' as they do in trying
to upgrade them or maintain them, the enterprise would be a
much nicer place to work.
Posted by ppgreat (1128 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Vista will be the biggest reason the masses switch to Linux, Mac & BSD
They are cutting their own throats with bulk, activation and lack of new features.

In short Microsoft has made themselves obsolete. This worked before better alternatives. It's a bad idea now.

I swiched my business from Windows to Ubuntu Linux and the move was great.
Posted by slim-1 (229 comments )
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Must be sad...
...to pass the time accusing Microsoft of being monopolistic for whatever they do. A man called Robert Vamosi (not the site which is only right when criticising Microsoft - CNET) said Windows Vista is not ready for prime-time and based almost all of that statement with the false argument that Microsoft dropped the Software Compatibility tool, when it is still there has it always has been. If you did use Vista RC1, RC2 and Office (which any intelligent person can clearly see you didn't) and you think that bad about them then those comments go against every single review of those products I've read so far, which is very curious. I think things like securing the core part of an OS by blocking free direct access to dll's is not properly what I'd call lipstick on a pig, and if it is, well it must be a very well loved pig. If an IT person without the slightest knowledge of his field would put the same effort into moving away from Microsoft's solutions as they do upgrading them or mantaining them, as you say, the enterprise would maybe be a much nicer place to work for YOU, but around 10 years behind and spending more money.
Posted by Ryo Hazuki (378 comments )
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