So was that an announcement or not? I mean Bill Gates on the subject of software as a service (SaaS) - aka 'CRM on demand'. Well, no, not really - despite ill-informed US media claims that he would announce a Microsoft hosted option - but it's the closest he's come to date.
Gates did talk about software as a service as a viable deployment model, although it is clearly a tactical policy rather than full-blown hosting religion a la NetSuite, RightNow or Salesforce.com. And he still ducked the channel conflict issue by leaving it to the partner community to handle this side of the business.
That said, the latest moves with Dynamics CRM makes it a far more 'hosting friendly' offering than ever before. I still maintain that there is no possibility that Microsoft will not end up offering its own hosting service and its partners will end up having to live with the new world order. The only question is how long it will take.
Meanwhile, Bill has more problems on his plate than hosting. The latest delay to the Vista operating system was hardly unexpected, but it is incredibly embarassing. The ousting of the old management team in charge of Windows is frankly long overdue and can surely only help in the future with new releases.
For the ISV and PC markets of course, the delay means a knock on delay in delivering new products, although SAP seems confident enough that it's not going to hinder Mendocino (ironitally the one product that Microsoft could end up privately wishing did slip a bit!). For Microsoft it's going to mean a delay in new revenue streams - it's almost five years since XP came out and the operating stream bottom line could do with a bit of a boost.
So no Vista for now and no hosted CRM from Microsoft for now. Put like that it all sounds a bit negative, but in reality of course it's the phoney war, the calm before the storm and any other cliche that you might like to trot out to suggest that the fun is yet to start.
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