Monday, November 19, 2007

Microsoft's Misstep is Your Last Warning

Normally I don't get to say "I told you so" for about ten years. But in this case, I get to say it after only four months.

See, wherein your intrepid reporter predicted what Microsoft sees in your future:

- Hosted MS Server
- Hosted MS Office
- Hosted MS Services

Your clients will buy everything directly from Microsoft and your job will be to show them how to use Outlook.

Microsoft confirmed this last week:

The really nasty, over-orchestrated thing that bothered me at that keynote speech is that Kevin Turner went on and on and on about how Microsoft loves the channel, and Microsoft is built on the channel, and Microsoft will always support the channel. "Now here's Steve Balmer to make clear that Microsoft couldn't care less about the channel."

After one slide, Vlad and I just looked at each other. "I guess it's over for us."


1) The bad news is that Microsoft is going to work really hard to take all of your pesky 1-10 user clients away and give them to Comcast.

2) The good news is that Microsoft is being completely open about this. They're not lying to you or deceiving you in any way. They're looking you straight in the eye and taking your clients.

3) The really good news is that they've picked a really bad ISP to partner with.

-- -- --

The choice is obvious. Fiber isn't everywhere. Cable's really super fast. So, if you're going to partner on this kind of thing, it really has to be a big national cable company.

But all cable companies suck when it comes to business class service. As a Comcast subscriber I can vouch for their unreliability. In the past year we've had four major outages and at least six minor ones. In fact, Comcast is the reason we decided to move our servers to a co-lo facility. Even if we can't get to the server, our company is still "up."

Aside from programming, Comcast has no history of launching a new technology smoothly. So it's going to be a bumpy ride and suck out loud.

Comcast is always being accused of throttling bandwidth for one reason or another. They say they don't, but it doesn't take much imagination to come up with a handful of tests to prove they do. This "traffic shaping" will allow them to give a little better performance to their SMB clients.

But it won't do much good when internet access is down.

So the first grand attempt will fail miserably with very angry customers. And, very likely, some lawsuits from small business owners.

-- -- --

That's not the end of the tale, though. Together Comcast and Microsoft have more money than J.K. Rawlings.

They'll retool. They're rewrite. They'll buy better equipment and hire the right people.

Eventually, they'll make it work.

And, when they do, they'll grab up a bunch of small businesses and keep them forever.

Gee, it seems like only last week that I was warning you: Do you sell Technology, or do you sell Business Consulting?

Decide what you want to do in 2, and 3, and 5 years. Microsoft has made a misstep with this Comcast deal. That buys you some time to retool and figure out what you're going to do.

Don't ignore this. It's your last warning.

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