Microsoft executives touted the company's cloud strategy and its plans for Windows 7 tablets during this week's Financial Analyst Meeting. Microsoft also announced security software in conjunction with this year's Black Hat USA conference, and offered a preview of Office for Mac 2011.
Microsoft's week climaxed at its annual Financial Analyst Meeting, where
company executives reiterated their argument-made previously at July's
Worldwide Partner Conference-that competition in areas such as the cloud and
tablet PCs is only just beginning. While Microsoft's core businesses performed
well last quarter, the company is trying to expand into areas where some of its
competitors already hold something of home-field advantage-particularly Apple,
whose bestselling iPad threatens to dominate the tablet
"Apple has done an interesting job of putting together a synthesis and
putting a product out," Ballmer told the assembled analysts July 29,
according to a transcript provided by Microsoft. "They sold certainly more
than I'd like them to sell, let me just be clear about that."
According to Ballmer, Microsoft already possesses the components necessary
to make a successful tablet franchise: "We have a lot of IP, we have a lot
of good software in this area, we've done a lot of work on ink and touch and
everything else-we have got to make things happen. Just like we had to make
things happen on netbooks, we've got to make things happen with Windows 7 on
A vital part of that, apparently, will be Intel's Oak Trail processor due in
2011. "Oak Trail is designed to be lower power," Ballmer said. "Lower
power is good in a lot of ways. It leads to longer battery life, no fan, lower
kind of noise levels, a lot less weight-a lot of things people like."
Ballmer seemed to hint that the consumer tablet market is in its early
stages, and the opportunity still exists for Microsoft to make a substantial
play. In that sense, his
comments echoed those made at the company's Worldwide Partner Conference
earlier in July
, where executives suggested the smartphone market is
nascent, and that the upcoming Windows Phone 7 can succeed against
well-established players such as the iPhone and Google Android.
Unlike Windows Phone 7, which will be loaded onto a singular style of
device-iPhone-like glass front, three physical buttons, no keyboard-Microsoft
evidently envisions a broad family of tablets running Windows 7.
"We think about these devices and I don't think there really is one
size fits all," Ballmer said. "Some people are going to want a device
that is screen and keyboard that spins around for inking purposes. Some people
are going to want things very light or very cheap or very expensive or very
powerful. All of those things are going to be important, and we've got a push
Push, maybe-but Ballmer also seemed noncommittal about an actual release
"Some of you will say, 'Well, when? When?' And I say, 'As soon as they're
ready.' They'll be shipping as soon as they are ready," he said. "Nobody
is sleeping at the switch. And so we are working with these partners, not just
to deliver something, but to deliver products that people really want to go
In addition to showing off Windows Phone 7, Xbox Kinect and Office 2010,
Microsoft used the Financial Analyst Meeting to talk about its "all in"
cloud strategy, as well as the company's designs on the enterprise.
"Our enterprise business is about 35.8 percent of the company. Our
small and medium-sized business is about 20 [percent] as you look at it," COO
Kevin Turner told analysts. The company's strategy to appeal to those
businesses, he added, revolves "around rebooting, retransitioning,
replatforming ourselves, if you will, around leading with the cloud with our
He also insisted that Microsoft's cloud initiatives will boost its
traditional software sales.
"We are going to lead with the cloud," Turner said. "Leading
with the cloud actually helps better position Microsoft to sell more
on-premises products than we ever have before. ... Very strategically it signals
a very clear commitment to our customers and to our partners."
While Microsoft has touted the cloud at several recent events-particularly
Azure, its cloud-based development platform-the company still depends on
traditional products such as Windows to supply the bulk of its monies.
"On the Azure side, it's early," Microsoft CFO Peter Klein told
analysts and media during the company's July 22 earnings call
not material to the financials this year."
Microsoft's other big announcement this week centered on security. In
conjunction with the opening of the Black Hat USA
security conference, Microsoft
announced July 28 that Adobe Systems will begin informing vendors of software
vulnerabilities via the Microsoft Active Protections Program
Originally launched in October 2008, MAPP was built with the intention of delivering
vulnerability information to security software vendors ahead of Redmond's
regular Patch Tuesday updates. As part of the program, Adobe will share
information about its product vulnerabilities with 65 global MAPP members.
"Given the relative ubiquity and cross-platform reach of many of our
products, as well as the continued shifts in the threat landscape, Adobe has
attracted increasing attention from attackers," said Brad Arkin, senior
director of product security and privacy at Adobe. "MAPP is a great
example of a tried and proven model giving an upper hand to a network of global
defenders who are really behind a shared purpose-protecting our mutual
As part of Black Hat, Microsoft announced EMET (Enhanced Migration
Experience Toolkit), which "brings newer security mitigations to older
Microsoft platforms and applications," in the company's words, and
blocking targeted attacks.
Not related to Black Hat, Microsoft
also provided a behind-the-scenes glimpse at some of the features in the
upcoming Office for Mac 2011
, including Template Gallery, which lets users
pick from Microsoft Office templates as a jumping-off point for creating new documents,
and the Office Ribbon, "designed as an evolution of the Office 2008
Elements Gallery." Apple may be a competitor with regard to tablets, but
Mac users still offer Microsoft a notable source of revenue.