Letter from Denver: Is Microsoft going to start a vendor war?

There is definitely a shift in attitude at Microsoft underway from where they were about five years ago. Microsoft executives have always been tremendously goal oriented and partner oriented. The company’s leaders and founders built this culture and it has been successful to say the least.

However, I am getting a sense that executives at the company have changed and become more aggressive. This new aggressive approach is not just against its enemies such as Oracle, Google and the Linux community, but also a lot of vendors that in the past Microsoft claimed they were proud to partner with, such as Cisco and Symantec.

Kevin Turner, COO of Microsoft, put up a slide the other day listing vendors it is targeting to take market share away from. I have never seen this before from Microsoft. For the record, the companies Turner put up on his competitive slide were: Novell, Apple, Red Hat, Symantec, Linux, Google, Salesforce.com, Sun, Oracle, IBM and Cisco.

Turner said that these are foes and that Microsoft and its partner network should be tough minded and compete to earn the business in a fair and respectful way.

He added that channel partners they should focus on execution.

“I love execution and strategy without execution is an hallucination. It goes back to sell, sell, sell in the market place. We are here to sell stuff. We are not a not-for-profit organization,” he said.

If you look at the words Turner used such as execution, compete, win, foe, and tough you can see they are being more aggressive than ever before.

To be fair to Microsoft, competitors have been down right nasty to them in terms of language and tactics used in the market place against them. Maybe Microsoft is just fed-up and wants to turn the tables on Oracle, Google and others.

Or maybe it is just the market pressures that are forcing them into this new aggressive approach.

This has forced companies that previously were willing to be open to collaboration with Microsoft such as Apple, Cisco, Sun, and Symantec to be more cautious when dealing with them.

Partnerships such as last month’s Cisco, EMC and Microsoft alliance to offer security-enhanced, commercial, multi-vendor, end-to-end information-sharing technology architectures for helping protect and share sensitive government information may be a rarity in years to come.

Partners and customers would probably prefer vendors to stay in their lanes.

Networking and communications vendors should do that. Security vendors should do that. And, OS and office productivity developers should do that.

The market would ridicule a company such as Symantec if they came out with an operating system. But Microsoft gets away with launching a unified communications offering.

This could be bad for the industry because it is this cooperation that has made the IT industry so great. It will be up to the partners ultimately to bridge this gap. They will have to find innovative ways to push technology from multiple vendors to customers.

Microsoft could have made it easier for them, but the gloves are off and they are going to fight the good fight.

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Jim Love, Chief Content Officer, IT World Canada

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Paolo Del Nibletto
Paolo Del Nibletto
Editor of Computer Dealer News, covering Canada's IT channel community.

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