To cap off its Worldwide Partner Conference, Microsoft provided the thousands in attendance with a rather detailed roadmap of what its plans are for its coming fiscal year (2012). Naturally, we took an interest in the matter.
What follows is roughly what Microsoft has in store for fiscal 2012, with TNW commentary along the way for guidance and perspective.
The Future Is The Cloud
Microsoft now has a second favorite word alongside the ever classic ‘developers:’ cloud. Yes, cloud is the buzzword that Microsoft is set to beat to death in the next year as the company moves to focus all its business weapons at the concept.
We’ll look into the company’s consumer cloud offerings in a moment, but for now we are going to focus only on its business cloud functions. Microsoft’s business products that could be said to have a cloud aspect are: SharePoint, Lync, Exchange, SQL Server, Dynamics, Windows Server, Office 365, Azure, and Intune. It’s quite a list.
Over the next year the company plans to both invest and grow those services, and also to make them more ‘cloudy.’ Cloud is a terrible word because it mostly means ‘online’ and ‘distributed,’ a combination that we used to call the ‘Internet.’ But Microsoft seems determined to embody the cloud as a method to drive its products into becoming more connected, and more accessible. The workforce of a company is ever more mobile, and its productivity tools must be as well.
In short, the business cloud side of Microsoft is full steam ahead. Interesting number: The number of Azure customers is currently doubling every month. That rate will have to slow, but it certainly shows the market demand for at least a part of Microsoft’s vision.
The Consumer Cloud – Zune Lives On
Microsoft will continue to push its consumer cloud products as hard as it can in the next fiscal year. Microsoft’s consumer cloud products include:
Windows Live: 500 million active IDs
Hotmail: 360 million users
Bing: 4+ billion queries per month
MSN: 440 unique users
Skype: 175 million users
TellMe: 2 billion calls per year
Messenger: 300 million users per month
Zune: Over 6 million songs in library
Xbox Live: 35 million users
You see now how the word ‘cloud’ is dangerous: If a service has a distributed element and data stored remotely, is it a ‘cloud’ service? Or simply an Internet product? Microsoft seems to prefer the word cloud.
Whatever the case, Microsoft’s consumer cloud products are a mixed bag. Bing and Zune are very usable products, but Hotmail and Messenger are not. It is interesting to note that the best of Microsoft made it onto Windows Phone 7 while the worst bits did not. Perhaps there is someone at the top who knows how to curate.
The takeaway from Microsoft’s comments is that it is standing behind its every brand: Zune will live on, at least for now.
The ‘Big Bet’ List
Microsoft also put together a “Big Bet’ list. Instead of retyping it, here is an image of what the company is calling its biggest investments for fiscal 2012:
We will show you one last slide. What follows is Microsoft’s strategy for how all these pieces fit together. It’s an interesting perspective:
And there you have it, Microsoft’s plans. What do you think, are they on the right path? Sound off in the comments.