Microsoft: Gmail like a Jaguar with 'vinyl seats'

Google among five competitors Microsoft disses to analysts

The annual Microsoft Financial Analyst Meeting today in Redmond featured the usual numbers crunching about its financials, a promised beta of IE 9 by September and CEO Steve Ballmer’s bombast and optimism, tempered by annoying vagueness, about when Microsoft will introduce a tablet-style computer -- “As soon as we can,” he said. But one interesting part of the daylong program was a point-by-point challenge to five of Microsoft’s top competitors from Chief Operating Officer Kevin Turner.

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Turner went straight after Google first off, taking on Microsoft’s nemesis in cloud computing. Google has been nipping away at Microsoft’s enterprise software market share with cloud offerings such Google Docs and Google Mail, trumpeting customer wins from Microsoft’s on-premise software suites.

Turner showed his audience of analysts for various investment firms an ad in Business Week magazine of Google’s “Gone Google” campaign boasting how the luxury car and SUV makers Jaguar and Land Rover had converted to Google Mail, presumably from Microsoft Exchange. Then Turner showed quotes from a Business Week article of employees of those firms, including this: “It’s funny. At Jaguar and Land Rover, we sell ourselves as best-of-breed, but we install the IT equivalent of vinyl seats.”


“You can’t make this stuff up,” Turner said, delightedly, adding that Google Mail is now introducing features Microsoft has had for more than 13 years, and that Microsoft is already winning back some customers from Google.

Next, he turned to VMware, which had the virtualization hypervisor market almost to itself for many years until Microsoft introduced the Hyper-V Server 2008 two years ago. Since then, Hyper-V has risen from zero market share to 15.2 percent in 2010, about half the 30.9 percent share of VMware’s ESX hypervisor, according to IDC.

Turner also did a price comparison of a Hyper-V system and a VMware vSphere Enterprise Plus installation, one that I suspect VMware people are scrutinizing for discrepancies. But Microsoft argues their system costs under $10,000 to VMware’s $58,000. Other hypervisor vendors, though, have hit VMware on their pricing.

Linux, the longtime open source challenger to Microsoft’s proprietary server operating system, was up next. Microsoft’s Windows Server 2008R2 grew its market share over the last two years by 3.7 points to 76.8 percent in 2010, while Linux dropped 1.7 points to 21.1 percent, Turner noted. But come to think of it, if I were Linux and one out of five servers ran my stuff, I think I’d be pretty content with that.

Turner then took on Oracle, the database leader, citing faster growth rates. Microsoft SQL Server revenue rose by 6.2 percent between 2008 and 2009, while Oracle’s grew by only 0.6 percent and IBM’s fell by 2.7 percent. Turner essentially warned Oracle to look in its rear-view mirror to see them closing.

Microsoft wants to seize an opportunity to migrate Oracle customers to SQL Server “because customers don't want to be locked into Oracle.” “We're here to save you. Here's a life preserver,” he said.

Lastly, Turner took on longtime competitor IBM, noting that over the last four years, more than 1,900 enterprise customers, representing a total 16.3 million seats, have migrated from IBM Lotus Notes to Microsoft Exchange Server. Microsoft, he said, is on a mission to “save those customers who are stranded on a Lotus Notes island.”

Post a comment if you think Microsoft’s disses have merit or warrant a “yeah, but” qualification.

Copyright © 2010 IDG Communications, Inc.

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