5 Things Microsoft Doesn't Want You to Know

Microsoft is trying to move toward the cloud while propping up Windows, Office and other client-based money-makers. As the software giant moves in those two directions, Jonathan Hassell offers his list of five things Microsoft would rather not talk about.

By Jonathan Hassell
Wed, June 13, 2012

CIO — Microsoft is in a state of transition in many ways right now, from its new client operating system to its huge emphasis on pumping up its Windows Azure cloud services. Disarray always creates some dirty laundry, however. Here are five things Microsoft wouldn't want you or your CIO to know about what's going on in Redmond.

1. If You're Not Moving to the Cloud, You're Not Getting a First-Class Release Experience.

Sure, Microsoft tout its ability to deliver both world-class products designed for on-premises datacenters as well as services that integrate those same products, along with their expertise in running huge, scaled-up datacenters—but the truth is that the company is cloud first now. Large product releases, such as the next version of SharePoint, will be cloud-first and premises-second. Features will be available only on the service version of the software and won't make it into the first release of the installable product. They may be added later via a service pack or an update rollup—or, then again, they may not.

At the other end of the spectrum is the cloud-based Office 365. Interesting features and capabilities are being rolled out across that suite of subscription services, and recently prices were even cut by about 20% on most of the service levels, including the level that gets you the most current Office license available. This would include the new version, Office 15, releasing later this year, too. When was the last time you saw your Software Assurance on-premises licensing bill go down when the level of service stayed the same?

2. Microsoft Wishes It Were a Consumer-Centric Business.

To understand this point, consider the brouhaha around Windows RT. More popularly known as Windows on ARM, or WoA, Windows RT is the company's attempt to have its client Windows system on system-on-a-chip devices such as tablets. Microsoft has stated publicly, "[A]lthough the ARM-based version of Windows does not include the same manageability features that are in 32-bit and 64-bit versions, businesses can use these power-saving devices in unmanaged environments."

Commentary: Windows RT May Be Microsoft's Answer to Apple and Google in the BYOD Game

Corporate IT departments were looking to Microsoft to produce a tablet OS that supported integration with their existing desktop and device security policies, not to release a one-off product that only offers management benefits if you happen to use a cloud service. This is a complete non-issue for consumers, but it's a huge miss for enterprises. Couple this with the huge architectural change in the Windows 8 user interface—no start screen; a "redesigned" touch-based, no-chrome UI lacking menu bars, scroll bars or other options; putting the tablet-friendly Metro interface first and the desktop a distant second, and so on. Business users want consistency. CIOs don't want to have to purchase licenses for a new OS that it will cost hundreds of thousands of dollars to train employees to use properly.

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