Microsoft: Dividing to Conquer

How do you grow your market once you've saturated it? Microsoft's bet: Slice and dice your core product.

Not so long ago, in a galaxy not so far away, there was one Windows client, one Windows server and one Visual Studio.

Then Microsofts begun to do a few one-offs: an XP Media Center release. A Visual Studio Team System release.

But we aint seen nothing yet.

Microsoft is poised to roll a bunch of new Windows variants. Microsoft forecasters are expecting some sort of communications-oriented Windows client (Windows XP Call Center Edition?) release to go live some time over the next few months.

And on the server side, Microsoft already has laid the groundwork necessary to componentize Longhorn, so that server makers and their customers will be able to choose from a pick-list of server roles when buying their software.

Now Microsoft says is embarking on a similar strategy with Windows Embedded. On Monday, the Redmondians announced Windows Embedded for Point of Service, the first of what will likely be a full family of verticalized versions of its operating system for ATMs, kiosks, medical systems and other devices.

While its not on the near-term horizon, Microsofts also actively exploring the idea of delivering verticalized versions of Visual Studio. Visual Studio for health care? Visual Studio for CRM-system development? It sounds like this is where things are headed, when you take Microsofts concept of "Software Factories" to its logical conclusion.

Granted, these kinds of vertical Visual Studio bundles are still a long, long way off. Think post-"Orcas" wave, which, at last count, sounds like 2007+. But the Software Factory guys (a k a, Keith Short and Jack Greenfield) are "talking to the Orcas folks now about preconfiguring certain types of rich clients," Short, a member of the "Whitehorse" modeling team, told Microsoft Watch this past summer. And Microsoft has begun building a few software-factory pilots already in conjunction with partners, as well as customers.


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