The XP Factor

A lot of people think Windows XP is big news for systems integrators and solutions providers. I'm not one of them.

A lot of people think Windows XP is big news for systems integrators and solutions providers. Im not one of them.

When Microsoft officially launched Windows XP last week, I made a conscious effort to tune out the noise. I have nothing against the product, but from what Ive seen, Windows XP doesnt have any killer features to warrant an immediate upgrade from Windows 2000.

Even if you determine that XP is a rock-solid upgrade, consider this: If youre trying to make a buck off Windows XP, NetWare 6—or any operating system upgrade, for that matter—youre focused on the wrong market.

Selling an operating system before an application is like putting the cart before the horse. Instead of hyping XP, call your best partner contacts at BEA Systems, Oracle, PeopleSoft, Siebel Systems, Veritas (and the list goes on) to get their take on Microsofts new operating system.

How committed are they to XP? When will they deliver XP-native applications? Why should customers embrace these new applications rather than sticking with what theyve got? Once you can answer these questions for your customers, pitch them Windows XPs best applications—rather than XP itself.

After all, selling yet another Windows upgrade is a difficult proposition. Plenty of Windows 2000 customers are still trying to get their arms around Active Directory. Customers are even more frustrated on the desktop, where Microsoft has delivered four major upgrades—Win95, Win98, Win2000 and Windows XP—in six years. Ill give Microsoft the benefit of the doubt, and I wont include Windows 98 Second Edition and Windows Millennium Edition in my official upgrade tally.

If you think Im biased against Microsoft, guess again. I covered Bill Gates & Co. as a reporter through most of the 1990s. I warned Novell and The Santa Cruz Operation that Windows NT was for real—long before most developers took Microsoft seriously on the server.

Windows XP may prove to be a hit for Microsoft and its PC allies. But if you want to make real money as a Microsoft partner, focus on the companys Great Plains division. After all, back-office application integration is where the action is.