Microsoft is entering a new era of competition. Cloud based apps, like those from Google and Zoho, seem to have the momentum or at least the hype on their side. Combine this with the failure that was Vista and the other viable operating system choices in the market such as Mac or Ubuntu. It all makes for an interesting marketplace and puts the spotlight on Microsoft for the World Partner Conference 2009 in New Orleans.

What does Windows 7 bring to the table? What is the roadmap for the Office and Sharepoint products. How does Microsoft’s cloud story stack up to others? These were some of the questions that Microsoft is answering for their global network of partners at WPC 2009. My perspective after three days of lectures and labs… Microsoft still has a great story, a compelling product line and they hit nail on the head with Windows 7.

At its core, IT is about leveraging technology to make people more productive. Microsoft gets this concept and they get it more than the competitors. This is true of Microsoft’s partner network as well. The mistake they made in the past is ignoring things like stability and usability rather than coupling them with productivity. I think they learned from this mistake and are back to doing what they do best, be competitive in the market and understand what enterprise and business consumers really want.

The story with Office 2010, Exchange 2010, and Sharepoint 2010 is all about Business Productivity combined with choice. Choice is Microsoft’s way of saying we allow our customers to put all, some or none of their infrastructure in the cloud. Choice is their way of saying, “Yes we do cloud too but cloud in and of itself is not the differentiator customers are really after, Business Productivity is and that’s we have always excelled at, no pun intended”. Business Productivity includes, buzz works such as Collaboration, Business Intelligence and Rich Feature Sets. Rather than diving into all these features in words, there are plenty of sites that focus on that.

The bottom line is that my faith in Microsoft to continue to empowering us(Partners) to provide our customers with true value-add products has been restored. I don’t know how the Market will shake up as google enters the ring but I do know that Microsoft has Enterprise and Business Productivity in its DNA and at the end of the day I think that will end up making their next wave of OS and productivity tools(Windows 7, Office, Sharepoint, Exchange, OCS) a hit in the market.