Microsoft Works Hard to Win Over Partners

By Peter Galli  |  Posted 2006-07-12 Print this article Print

At the Microsoft Worldwide Partner Conference, prospective partners are asking tough questions as they contemplate joining forces with the software giant.

Editors Note: This is the third in a series of articles that examines Microsofts strategy of gaining market share and driving new solutions to market through its partner base.

BOSTON—Microsoft may not have answered all the questions prospective partners had when they attended a summit before the companys annual Worldwide Partner Conference here, but it certainly convinced many of them that they should indeed join forces with the software giant.

Microsoft invited some 320 potential new partners to attend the Partnering Executive Summit on July 10, where it tried to sell them on the benefits of partnering with Microsoft and explain why it is better positioned competitively than the platforms they are currently selling.
While a number of those prospective partners came with a myriad of questions and issues that they hoped would be answered at the day-long event on July 10, some were let down. Click here to read more about how Microsoft is pulling out all the stops to woo new partners. Richard Groves, the chief operating officer at Streamline Computing, which has been operating for six years delivering Linux clusters, is one such potential partner. While he was upbeat about the summit and all the things he learned about Microsoft and partnering with it, some of his fundamental questions were not answered, he told eWEEK in an interview here. Streamline had been hoping to hear about HPC supported applications that would allow it to address some of the needs of companies in the SMB space, as well as how Microsoft planned to deliver a consistent development environment and all the tools that go along with that. "There was no mention of the development environment and the tool chain at Summit, and this is very important to us and to our customers," Groves said. "Also, with regard to certification and accreditation, the HPC market is a completely new one to Microsoft and I wanted to hear what they planned to do on that front. Again, I did not." Allison Watson, Microsofts corporate vice president for the worldwide partner group, told eWEEK that while she had received a lot of positive feedback from Summit attendees, "this is just the beginning of the journey." She acknowledged that Microsoft needed to have more one-on-one meetings on-site, but noted that she did not expect all potential partner questions to be answered in the few days at the Summit and the partner conference. Streamlines Groves agreed that the Summit had been informative and useful. "I was impressed by the fact that Microsoft has such a lot of staff with so much enthusiasm, which is good to see. I was also surprised by the breadth of products they have and are bringing to market beyond the core Windows and Office brands," he said. Click here to read more about how Microsoft is looking to new partners to drive its HPC and security offerings. Groves was also interested in some of Microsofts perspectives, shared during the day in executive keynotes, especially by the prediction that some 10 percent of all servers sold worldwide would end up being HPC servers. Another keynote on competitive platform issues, by Ryan Gavin, Microsofts director of platform strategy, looked at Windows as an operating system and how it was positioned competitively. Groves take was that "hes a Microsoft employee and obviously favors Windows. I think there are other perspectives on the competitive front." Next Page: "If Microsoft wants to get into a market, they will."

Peter Galli has been a financial/technology reporter for 12 years at leading publications in South Africa, the UK and the US. He has been Investment Editor of South Africa's Business Day Newspaper, the sister publication of the Financial Times of London.

He was also Group Financial Communications Manager for First National Bank, the second largest banking group in South Africa before moving on to become Executive News Editor of Business Report, the largest daily financial newspaper in South Africa, owned by the global Independent Newspapers group.

He was responsible for a national reporting team of 20 based in four bureaus. He also edited and contributed to its weekly technology page, and launched a financial and technology radio service supplying daily news bulletins to the national broadcaster, the South African Broadcasting Corporation, which were then distributed to some 50 radio stations across the country.

He was then transferred to San Francisco as Business Report's U.S. Correspondent to cover Silicon Valley, trade and finance between the US, Europe and emerging markets like South Africa. After serving that role for more than two years, he joined eWeek as a Senior Editor, covering software platforms in August 2000.

He has comprehensively covered Microsoft and its Windows and .Net platforms, as well as the many legal challenges it has faced. He has also focused on Sun Microsystems and its Solaris operating environment, Java and Unix offerings. He covers developments in the open source community, particularly around the Linux kernel and the effects it will have on the enterprise.

He has written extensively about new products for the Linux and Unix platforms, the development of open standards and critically looked at the potential Linux has to offer an alternative operating system and platform to Windows, .Net and Unix-based solutions like Solaris.

His interviews with senior industry executives include Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer, Linus Torvalds, the original developer of the Linux operating system, Sun CEO Scot McNealy, and Bill Zeitler, a senior vice president at IBM.

For numerous examples of his writing you can search under his name at the eWEEK Website at


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