WS 08, SQL Server 08 and Visual Studio Due Feb. 27

This will be Microsoft's single largest launch ever.

DENVER—Microsoft will release Windows Server 2008, SQL Server 2008 and Visual Studio 2008 together on Feb. 27, 2008 in what will be the companys single largest launch ever.

"There is a feeding frenzy out there and we are committed to bringing this innovation to you, our partners and our customers. This will be the single largest product launch ever in the companys history," Kevin Turner, Microsofts chief operating officer, said at the annual worldwide partner conference here July 10.

The commitment to a final ship date for Windows Server 2008 ends months of speculation about when the product will actually be available to customers. Microsoft has until now only said it would release the code to manufacturing by the end of 2007, leading many to correctly predict that would be in early 2008.

Turner also took aim at competitor IBM and its Lotus Notes prod-uct, which competes with Microsoft Exchange. "Some 2.5 million IBM Lotus Notes seats have been Exchanged so far this year, and we want to increase the number of Notes seats replaced by Exchange Server to 4 million in 2008 by showing that we have a better busi-ness model [and] we can win fairly against Notes," he said.

The biggest single advantage of partnering with Microsoft was, essentially, people, which included partners, and the company contin-ued to innovate and had invested more than $7 billion in research and development innovation over the past year, an investment that would increase again in the 2008 fiscal year, he said.

While that investment was more than that made by any other com-pany, it was just a fraction of the Microsoft story, he said, noting that Microsoft put $20 billion worth of prior years innovation into the market this year—a reference to the releases of Windows Vista, Office 2007 and Exchange Server 2007, among others.

"I smell money in fiscal year 2008. With Windows Server 2008, SQL Server 2008 and Visual Studio 2008 all coming out over this next year, I see 2008 as the year in which we accelerate the monetization of this innovation," he said.

The partner ecosystem was the second biggest advantage Microsoft had over its competitors, and the first three quarters of the current fiscal year had been strong and shown unprecedented growth for Microsoft, which meant it had been a strong year for partners as well.

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Turner also thanked partners for what he called the launch of the decade—the release of Windows Vista, Office 2007 and Exchange 2007 in January. Some 40 million copies of Windows Vista had been sold in the first 100 days of availability, and research by IDC showed that there was a multibillion partner opportunity around Vista in financial year 2008 alone.

There were currently also more than 10,000 devices certified for Windows Vista, while 1,900 applications had been certified for Vista so far, he said.

With regard to the Office System family of products, Turner pre-dicted that Office Live would be one of the largest deployed applica-tions around the world in a few years time, noting that there was a huge partner opportunity around that.

There were now some 85 million SharePoint users, and more than 300,000 partners had been trained on Office 2007 so far, while more than 23,000 partners had been trained on Exchange Server 2007.

Turning to how Microsoft has delivered on its promises over the past year, Turner said that the company had invested more than $2 billion in partner supporting roles, had delivered nine prof-itability blueprints and online tools, launched some $20 billion in innovation into the market and made a big step forward on providing a clear product road map and tying that to profitability.

But he only gave Microsoft a C score on the product road map front, acknowledging that a lot more work remained to be done.

With regard to the Linux and open source threat, Turner pointed to the fact that Windows Server revenue had grown faster than Linux server revenue for the first time since IDC started tracking that data.

But Microsoft needed partner help to change the momentum around Linux and open source, especially with regard to those new markets Microsoft was competing in, such as High Performance Computing. "We have a great HPC solution and we need your help to get out there and sell, sell, sell it," Turner said.

He ended by noting that "we are set for one heck of a year over the next year and this is the year we can knock it out of the park. But we need your help with execution as our future will be determined by what we do today. Strategy without execution is hallucination, and we are here to sell stuff and are focused on driving this on the back of all our innovation. We also compete to win and let the customer decide. We are going to be tough-minded about competition, but we are going to win fairly," he said.

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