About a week from now I’ll be heading to Washington DC to the Microsoft WPC event.
I really, really, really don’t want to say anything negative about MSFT, but..
I also really don’t want to beat a dead horse – let’s just say that I hope Microsoft has something to show for itself this year and doesn’t retreat to what it’s already become: a depressed cash cow munching on the proceeds from Windows and Office while playing Xbox on the couch.
Bah.. Microsoft WPC used to be the event of the year. Now, having killed it’s partner program, my largest partners will not be heading to WPC at all. Partners – few and far in between, pretty much the same guys I see at all other events. What is sad is that Microsoft did this to itself, and I can pinpoint the exact moment at which Microsoft stabbed itself. Sadly, it was on the top of the game when it decided it no longer needed it’s partners.
Mistake #1: Microsoft decided to fight Google with an enterprise product. Gmail, even today, is a crappy AJAX webmail. It’s better compared to Hotmail than Exchange. Yet, Microsoft decided to position Exchange against Google Apps – thereby destroying any chance it’s partners had with Exchange in the SMB market to begin with. It’s clear (through many, many, many memos and messages) that Microsoft is OK just getting a $1 or $2 per subscriber with BPOS is better than getting $0 in the eventual fear that everyone will be on Google Apps.
Mistake #2: Microsoft decided it didn’t need the partners anymore. For all the time they spend trying to create all sorts of partner perks and engagements, it’s product & business divisions certainly stiffed it’s partner base: by setting their profit margins from them, by taking their clients on direct, by eliminating core products that the partners were excited about and finally, becoming extremely inconsistent with the business direction.
Who would have thought that the Microsoft mantra of “we will compete with everyone, everywhere, with blood on every table” would be the eventual samurai suicide presented as a spectacle through WPC keynotes from Ballmer to Turner?
Don’t get me wrong – Microsoft is our biggest partner. We want them to succeed.
However, we are not developing anything for the Microsoft platform. It’s all about iOS, Android and the web. We are spending more time working on development efforts with Google than we are with Microsoft. Our business is diverging from our largest partner, not by our own choice but by the market demand.
It’s sad to see such a rich and successful company so thoroughly mismanaged and misguided. You always need friends and partners. Every year, there are fewer Microsoft partners at WPC, and in a week I hope to see a reason to remain one. I really do.