By now, “The Internet Services Disruption” missive from Microsoft Chief Technology Office Ray Ozzie has been dissected ad infinitum. But we have yet to see Softies or Soft watchers attempt to put any real meat on Ozzies services bones.
Ozzie itemized several general categories of services into which he believes Microsoft should delve in the coming months/years. These included ad-supported, subscription-based, try-and-buy and portal-style services. In his much-analyzed memo, Ozzie also listed seven “opportunity” categories for these kinds of services.
We thought it might be an interesting exercise to take on the role of the services czars from each of Microsofts three business units (platform products and services; business; and home and entertainment) who are charged with helping Ozzie develop Microsofts services game plan.
If we were attempting to populate Ozzies opportunities matrix (consisting of seven “seamless” scenarios), this is where wed start:
1. Seamless OS: While Microsoft execs allegedly have considered making Windows itself available as a hosted service, such a scenario seems unlikely after reading Ozzies memo. Microsoft is looking for services to add to its cash cows, like Windows and Office—rather than risking tinkering with its tried-and-true shrink-wrapped stalwarts. While Microsoft has talked up a number of its planned Windows Live offerings as examples of what to expect in this space, were thinking that the long-rumored personal/small-business storage service would be a natural here.
2. Seamless Communications: Remember Office Interconnect? The electronic-business-card application that Microsoft pioneered in Japan? Our Office 12 beta testers say that InterConnect could end up as an integrated part of Office 12 (at least the Japanese version). But Microsoft also could opt to make InterConnect a subscription service. We know wed be first in line for electronic business cards. And theres also the still-unannounced hosted Microsoft small-biz bundle, anchored by VOIP and instant messaging, will likely be one of the next communications services announced by the sleeping software giant.
3. Seamless Productivity: We dont know exactly what Microsoft has in mind on the “Office Live” front. But company execs have dropped some strong hints. Remember those SharePoint application templates—things like employee timesheets, legal-document workflow guidelines, meeting management apps—that the company quietly launched late this summer? Were betting these 30 or so applets will be offered as hosted, subscription-based services for companies who dont want to muck around with SharePoint. Were also betting a little-known, internally-developed and—deployed Microsoft application known as ManagePoint could be another of the hosted productivity apps in Microsofts pipeline.