For his annual keynote at the Microsoft Worldwide Partner Conference, taking place this week in Los Angeles, Microsoft Chief Operating Officer Kevin Turner wasted little time challenging Microsoft's many competitors. He flouted the supposed weaknesses of Cisco, IBM, Google, Oracle and others, letting attendees know that Microsoft is gunning for these companies' business. "I am grateful for those competitors. It is fun going after them in a big way," he said.
Turner even took the opportunity to criticise some of Microsoft's old technologies, such as Windows XP and Office 2003.
As the COO, Turner oversees Microsoft's worldwide sales, marketing, and services. And at the WPC conference, his role is to rally Microsoft partners to march into battle against
competing companies. This year, however, Turner seemed even more eager than usual to call out competitors by name and list their putative deficiencies.
Google was one of the first companies Turner savaged, particularly in regards to its online office suite, Google Docs. "Two years ago, all of the headlines said Microsoft was in big trouble," he said. "Guess what? It hasn't happened."
He criticised Google for hidden fees in Google Docs, which Microsoft competes against with its own recently launched Office365. Turner claimed that Google's annual fee of $50 per user per year is "only the tip of the iceberg." Customers may incur additional fees, the nature of which Turner did not specify.
He also touted Office365, taking the time to quote an article from a trade magazine, stating that "Office 365, frankly, is to Google Apps as XBOX 360 Live is to Pong."
"Office365, ladies and gentlemen, is nothing but a Google butt-kicker," he said, adding that Office365 had already gained 5 million licensed users. He also mocked Google Talk as an "inferior messaging system."
Discussing Cisco, Turner extolled the audience to go after that company's profitable teleconference business. "Think about all the years that Cisco has been milking those high margins -- 75, 80 percent margins -- on its unified communications product," he said, adding that Microsoft's partners could offer a lower-cost alternative through Microsoft's Lync unified communications offering.
Another target was IBM. Turner notes that Microsoft has migrated 4.5 million users off of IBM's Lotus Notes, and expects to migrate another five million this year, all in favour of Microsoft Exchange.
Taking aim at Oracle, Tuner rhetorically asked: "How many happy Oracle customers are you talking to?"
"There is a tremendous opportunity for us to really go after the Oracle customer right now," he said. He posited that SQL Server was a lower-cost and more secure alternative to the Oracle database.
With VMware, he referred to something he called the "VMware tax," noting that Microsoft's Hyper-V virtualization software offers the ability to run more virtual machines, after the first six, at no additional cost. "We caught VMware flat-footed because of the economics of the cloud," he said. "The more VMs you add, the more you save."
This is not the first year that Turner has bashed competitors. Last year at WPC, Turner mocked Apple for its problems with the then recently released iPhone 4, calling it Apple's Vista, referring to Microsoft's own less-than-enthusiastically received operating system.
Apple was not spared Turner 's mockery this year either. Comparing Apple's approach to its operating systems with Microsoft's, Turned mused that "your guess is as good as mine as to when [Apple will merge] the iOS and MacOS." Windows 8, in contrast, will be a single OS that will bridge a wide range of different devices, he noted.
Turner also took apparent delight in displaying photos of an unnamed authorized Apple reseller store in Latin America that was selling Apple desktops and Apple laptops running Windows 7. "That should tell you a lot about having a great OS."
Some of Turner's jibes were more enthusiastic than coherent. "It is so good to have something to compete with Salesforce.com head-to-head," Turner trumpeted, referring to Microsoft's Dynamics CRM Online, which has gone live in direct competition with Salesforce.com's offerings. "Now, we have this humongous pacifier to stick in the mouth of [Salesforce.com CEO] Marc Benioff."
Not all of Turner's talk was bluster. He also took the opportunity to provide a eulogy for Microsoft products that the company hopes its users will upgrade, namely Windows XP, Office 2003 and Internet Explorer 6. "Those products deserve a standing ovation. They have been so good to so many people. But you know what? They are dead. End-of-life is 2014," Turner said.
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