5 Resolutions for 2008 Microsoft Can't Afford To Break

Since I'm terrible at keeping my own new years resolutions, I thought I'd be better off creating some for others -- Microsoft in this case.

Serious, I offer these as the things I think Microsoft could do to continue to dominate in the marketplace. Not that $51 billion in FY2007 revenues is any indication that Microsoft has been taking time off. The only thing conspicuously missing from my list is a response to the Google phone, which I predict will dominate the conversation in 2008, relegating the Apple iPhone into the Flock of Seagulls has-been category.

Resolution 1: Vista SP1 Reels in the Criticisms

Will Vista SP1 save Vista's reputation? No, but it doesn't have to. A solid Vista SP1 release will squelch the Vista-bash uproar to a low grumble and dash the doomsayers hopes that a weakened Vista means Mac OS X has a shot at overtaking the desktop OS market. Momentum is a hard thing to beat and if Vista SP1 is solid, it will largely bring Vista back on track.

Resolution 2: Windows Server 2008 is A Resounding Success

Will Server 2008 be a huge success? Who knows for sure, but the RC1 candidate is looking pretty good so far. Microsoft can't afford another Vista debacle so lets hope they've gotten it right this time around. If not, there will be more hell to pay than just for a lousy Server 2008 release.

Microsoft's fundamental ability to ship new core operating systems would be more than damaged, it would be trashed. The virtualization strategy is also at stake. The Server 2008 release is an all-chips-on-the-table bet Microsoft must win.

Resolution 3: Ray Ozzie Comes Out From Behind The Curtain

So will Ray Ozzie come on the stage already? It's time for Ray's coming out party. Everyone knows Bill Gates is gone mid-year and Ozzie needs to make a strong presence or the crowds will immediately start wondering if he can do the job. I think Ray is a great and will be very successful but he shouldn't wait for Bill to go.

A long time ago I heard the CEO of Avis advise people in new jobs to take action and make a difference immediately. The logic was, they won't fire you in the first 180 days, lest management look stupid for hiring you in the first place. There's some logic in that, and Ray's got to show some strong direction both to demonstrate he is the right guy for the job and that Microsoft will continue on after the era Gates.

Resolution 4: Deliver A Compelling Virtualization Strategy

Some peoples' views are if Hyper-V in Server 2008 is solid, we'll see Microsoft-centric shops leaving VMware for Hyper-V virtualization technology. Possible, but Microsoft has some pretty big gaps in their virtualization functionality as compared to VMware and Xen.

The best move for Microsoft? Become vapor-virtual and freeze the market by communicating a compelling vision for virtualization in a Microsoft world. Adding management features to System Center isn't compelling, like putting on necessary wall primer before the cool colored paint isn't compelling either. Management isn't sexy; real time failover, load balancing, on demand capacity are. Could some vision marketing work stunt VMware's dominance? No, but Microsoft needs to make a strong statement or it'll be stuck in a long game of perpetual catch up.

Resolution 5: Microsoft Finally Joins The Web 2.0 and Social Networking Revolution

So besides doing a Google me-too Live Search, and grabbing advertising dollars, does anybody really understand what Microsoft's Web 2.0, On Demand software application, and social networking strategy is? This is another late-to-the-party Internet catch up for Microsoft and it's not clear they can keep pace with the innovation being fueled by Google and others. But clearly social networking dominates the myspace, facebook and text messaging generation, much more than Word and Excel. Future retail revenues means Microsoft must play well in this space, or remain an outside player to Google.

Now, back to what to do about the Google phone. That WILL be the Apple iPhone of 2008. But that's for another blog topic.

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Copyright © 2008 IDG Communications, Inc.

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