As the dust from Microsoft Corp.s latest reorganization continues to settle, one thing is evident: Microsoft is intent on turning its long-term dream of selling software as a service into reality.
Last week, Microsoft made no bones about the fact that it is planning to field a full lineup of consumer and business services across all three of its newly minted divisions.
In fact, Microsoft already sells a number of such services, both paid and free, ranging from Xbox Live to MSN Spaces blogging service. Microsoft officials have hinted at other potential offerings in the pipeline, including both consumer and enterprise versions of the Windows OneCare hosted security services, as well as a hosted Microsoft CRM service, akin to what Salesforce.com sells today.
But there are even more Microsoft services in the wings that the company has yet to detail publicly. Among those closest to commercialization: A new small-business bundle of VOIP (voice over IP), instant messaging and data conferencing about which Microsoft has discussed privately with some of its partners, as well as a managed, high-availability Exchange Server offering.
According to partners, who requested anonymity, a hush-hush Microsoft team known as the Unified Communications Services group is working on the hosted SMB (small/midsize business) bundle. The offering will likely include e-mail, unified messaging, instant messaging, VOIP and data-conferencing capabilities all rolled into a single, hosted collaboration suite, partners said. A "smart personal agent" is central to the pending offering, as well, partners added.