"If we don't cannibalize our existing business, others will."
That's from a slide deck from a one of many Microsoft presentations this week at the company's Worldwide Partner Conference. (Specifically, It's from a presentation by Tony Safoian, CEO of Microsoft partner SADA Systems,that was part of a Microsoft talk entitled "The Evolution of Microsoft Online Services," that was part of from the conference, where Microsoft officials are working to get the 14,000 attendees onboard with Microsoft's move to the cloud.)
Safoian's slide offers a pretty realistic take on why Microsoft and its partners need to move, full steam ahead, to slowly but surely lessen their dependence on on-premises software sales.
Outside of individual sessions, however, Microsoft's messaging from execs like Chief Operating Officer Kevin Turner, has been primarily high-level and inspirational.
"We are the undisputed leader in commercial cloud services," Turner claimed during his July 14 morning keynote. "We are rebooting, re-pivoting, and re-transitioning the whole company to bet on cloud services."
Turner told partners Microsoft's revamped charter is to provide "a continuous cloud service for every person and every business." He described that as a 20-year journey, and said it will be one where partners will be able to find new revenue opportunities.
While the cloud has been the far and away primary focus of this year's partner show -- with Turner and others telling partners they should be "leading with the cloud," the reality is Microsoft isn't yet giving up on its software cash cows.
Partners need to focus on selling "the triple play," as Turner called it, of Windows 7, Office 2010 and Internet Explorer 8 and 9. He noted that 85 percent of Microsoft's installed base is running XP or Vista. Fifty-two percent is running an old version of Internet Explorer, and 63 percent an older version of Office. Upgrade opportunities abound, he said.
Turner listed as Microsoft's primary competitors Google, Apple, VMware, Linux and Oracle, and took his customary pot shots at all of them, as he typically does at every partner conference.
"It looks like iPhone 4 might be their Vista and I'm OK with that," Turner quipped when dissing Apple.
He told the crowd that Microsoft is working with its partners to create an answer to the iPad, something Ballmer said earlier this week. Ballmer said there would be new Windows 7 slates coming later this year, and noted that Microsoft is working with tens of PC partners to create new form factors running Windows. Turner said the focus is on something between a slate and a tablet that would be able to do both content consumption and creation.
On the partner front, Microsoft announced a number of new cloud-focused sales tools and promotions designed to get its partners to adopt inside their own shops Microsoft cloud services like the Business Productivity Online Suite (BPOS) and Dynamics CRM Online.
Turner told keynote attendees today that there "is an opportunity for every single partner in the cloud." Partners can "build, tell, sell and support" the company's cloud services offerings. He suggested that partners be the ones who advise customers on how to budget for the cloud; which apps can and should move to cloud and which don't; how and when to rewrite legacy apps, and more.