DENVER: Microsoft CEO, Steve Ballmer, said traditional enterprise software is the here and now, but partners and users should start preparing for a world that will meld software and services. Ballmer laid out a roadmap for the future, not only for Microsoft but also for all partners that build software on top of the Windows platform, during his keynote at the company's annual Worldwide Partner Conference. While traditional software will continue to generate the bulk of sales revenue, a software-plus-services world is not far behind.
Ballmer's message was for everybody to get on the software-plus-services bandwagon, Microsoft's version of the software-as-a-service trend now dominating industry hype.
"We as a company are innovating, writing new software; we will be out with beta and design previews and we will be looking for feedback," he said. "The time to engage is now. "We need to bring together rich user interfaces, offline and online access, and what I call personal integration to go in and bring things together, integrate them, store them and link them together in unique and arbitrary ways."
Ballmer said a good example was Outlook and Exchange. "Outlook is a rich client app. Outlook Web Access is an Ajax app that looks exactly the same but talks to the same backend," he said. "Offi ce Outlook Mobile is a device form factor, and Office Outlook voice access makes this successful even versus the telephone. And as Exchange has moved out to live in a hosted form it is moved to use HTTP protocols and is perhaps the closest model we have, I think, to what people will really want in the future."
Ballmer went on to demonstrate Silverlight, Microsoft's new platform for rich Web-based applications, and said the back-end computation in the future would not be done on corporate deployed infrastructure but on large-scale services. Ballmer said Microsoft would deliver on a services platform the same sorts of capabilities it delivers today in packaged software such as Windows Server, Active Directory and Microsoft Operations Manager.
He said Microsoft would offer personal services for individuals such as Windows Live and Office Live, business services such as today's hosted Exchange, communications and collaboration services, and online services such as Dynamics CRM.