Acquisitions, APIs hint at
MS Plans"> Microsofts interest in services was underscored by the companys recent purchase of FrontBridge Technologies Inc. FrontBridge is a hosted service that scrubs e-mail, with operations that include hosted CRM (Customer Relationship Management), e-mail, and helping companies set up and manage servers. "Microsoft wants to start offering these types of services," Rosoff said. "They already have a little, but they think this will be an area of growth."But the API releases were just the tip of whats to come, Wilcox predicted. As buzz increases around the next-generation Internet, Web 2.0, Microsoft is looking to close ranks to protect its franchise, he said. "It looks to me like Microsoft has connected its servers and tools and Windows, and on one hand, Microsoft is working to protect its core franchise," Wilcox said. "As things move more and more to the Web, at the same time, Microsoft will have an alternative set of offerings available, closely aligned with that core franchise." Does Web 2.0 threaten Microsofts hegemony? It depends on who you ask, Wilcox said. But one thing to bear in mind is that Web 2.0 is not a new idea; its been batted around for years, but is at the point where it becomes no longer just talk. Now the industry is seeing Web 2.0 come to life, with Salesforce.com being one very successful example. "The company offers CRM software on the Web, it consumes [data] on the Web, updates are made quickly, much more so than what Microsoft has done with its CRM product, for example, and theres no impact on a companys existing infrastructure," Wilcox said. But as Microsoft moves to offer services and bolster its offerings to fight off the impending next-generation Internet, this major reorganization could well shake up a slew of impending releases. In the next few months, products expected out include Xbox 360, SQL Server 2005, Visual Studio .Net 2005, BizTalk Server 2006, Windows Server 2003 R2, and an update to Windows Media Center edition. "Its possible well see more delays, but its hard to say," Wilcox said. "If Microsofts contention is right, things will be more efficient [with the reorganization]. Either this was very smart, or it wasnt." Check out eWEEK.coms for Microsoft and Windows news, views and analysis.
Wilcox said he even foresees MSN emerging as a development platform, as witnessed by Microsofts release last week of APIs for MSN search and Virtual Earth, a map program that competes with Googles maps.