Where is Microsoft Going With Small Business - Comments by Marc Maiffret

Marc Maiffret and I recently had a conversation on an e-mail based discussion forum. Marc is one of the founders of eEye (who produce the Blink and Retina digital security products) and he has recently gone out on his own again. I asked Marc about reproducing that conversation and he said "ok". See the meat of the thread below (read from the bottom up!):

From: Marc Maiffret [mailto:marc@marcmaiffret.com]

Sent: Thursday, January 24, 2008 7:36 PM

Subject: RE: [OT] Gmail in the workplace

I had been trying to avoid a blog for a long time because a lot of people

end up blogging about the weather and funny things their cat does and I

didn't want to turn into one of those people for the same reasons I don't

like watching TV. But alas I made a new year's resolution to get off my bum

and finally create a blog to have an answer for everyone I run into at

conferences. Will be live on marcmaiffret.com next week, and probably look

about as ugly as the current page. :-)


You could probably link to the email in the sunbelt mail archive (if there

is one) or otherwise go ahead and copy and paste away, there are no lawyers

in this house.




-----Original Message-----

From: Michael B. Smith [mailto:michael@TheEssentialExchange.com]

Sent: Thursday, January 24, 2008 1:37 PM

Subject: RE: [OT] Gmail in the workplace


I can assure that at least the Exchange MVPs have seen the writing on the



Microsoft has increased the "cost of entry" to Exchange 2007. Not for the

basic features - the cost is the same for those, except for hardware

replacement. But to use the more advanced capabilities - the need for true

administration and cost of the feature content has increased. We've

discussed this quite a bit among ourselves.


In the short term, there is also no question that based on the

cost-benefit-ratio associated with Exchange (and unified communications in

general) that Microsoft is driving small business to hosted Exchange and to

Microsoft Live, depending on the feature set the business requires. I've

written several articles on this, from a forward looking perspective. I've

not been as quite hardcore as you are below!


In the short-term for medium business, I'm not sure MSFT has decided

themselves. Centro is great. Exchange is an integral piece of that product.


In the long-term, well, I can't say.


Good post. Have you blogged it? I'd like to link to it. :-)




Michael B. Smith

MCSE/Exchange MVP



-----Original Message-----

From: Marc Maiffret [mailto:marc@marcmaiffret.com]

Sent: Thursday, January 24, 2008 4:20 PM

Subject: RE: [OT] Gmail in the workplace


I figured we would have more emails like this by now but I guess Google Apps

and Windows Live are walking instead of running.


The reality is that a lot of people who depend on Microsoft and small

business consulting are going to slowly see a drop in the requirements (time

you can bill for) in consulting and maintaining SMB organizations. That is

the one thing that Microsoft does not tell all of its die hard MVP's about

as it relates to its Microsoft Live initiatives.


In order for Microsoft Live to be successful it means creating a web

business infrastructure that an average joe business guy can use himself,

self maintaining system etc... It cannot be said any more clearly than for

Microsoft Live business services to be successful they must make the need

for companies like g2support to be extremely minimal. I know that sounds

harsh but if you talk with the business folks at Microsoft Live, look at

their product strategy and how they measure success, it simply is this way.


If Microsoft is successful then the idea of selling, setting up, and

supporting a company with SBS or Exchange and whatever else is going to be a

thing of the past. Obviously there will still be network maintenance and

what not but even things like backup will soon be nicely rolled into

Microsoft and Google online services therefore not requiring companies like

yours to do it for people. Again I am not trying to be harsh but realistic

about what is coming, or at least what Microsoft and Google would like to



See at the end of the day when your consulting at a place like a small

mortgage company the reality is that that mortgage company does not want to

have to bother with you or any of the other hassles of technology. They just

want to deal with mortgages as that is how they make money. So if they can

get a hassle free (as MS and Google market it) solution that is also cheaper

than what you are charging them then they are all for it. And Microsoft and

Google obviously look at it as new revenue streams and while some people

might think "but they wouldn't put me out of business I've been a loyal bla

bla bla" ... well it's just business and the current idea of both the small

mortgage company and Microsoft/Google is that companies like yours do not

need to be part of the equation as it is cheaper for the mortgage company

and new money for Microsoft/Google.


Change is coming, and a lot of it, and if I was a company that has been

capitalizing off of SMB IT management of Windows environments I would start

thinking about the future, the changing landscape, and new ways to generate

revenue. Again I don't think it is going to happen tomorrow so I am not

shouting fire or trying to sound scary. But it is coming and you should

definitely be forward thinking about it as Oliver is doing here.


Of course the rate at which this change comes will depend on the technology

progress that Google and Microsoft make. Right now Google Apps is pretty

weak and simply an email system with not much else. Microsoft's offering has

a bit more bells and whistles but that is just because they are giving you a

hosted SharePoint system on top of email and they tailored some of the

SharePoint functionality to give the appearance of their solution having

more meat than it really does.


Now of course one man's downside is another man's upside.... there is a lot

of money to be made in this new world that is on its way if you adapt

yourself. At the end of the day people will pay you to help make them more

money or streamline their business, which helps make them more money. And as

I said there are a lot of things lacking with Microsoft Live and Google Apps

and the right minded people could capitalize a lot on those lacking features

and functions. Such as helping that mortgage company have better integration

between their Microsoft Live service and salesforce.com or whatever else

comes to mind.


I know that this does not answer your original question but that is because

I think you are asking the wrong questionSleep. In business if you are not a

company that can affect change then you should strive to embrace it. I have

seen more companies fail because of lack of fluidity than anything else.

While you can get some short term mileage out of learning how to sell people

on SBS, even though the market is moving towards Google Apps and Microsoft

Live, you will suffer in the long run. So get the team together for a brain

storming session, and get the google alerts going for Google Apps and

Windows Live to start learning about what others are doing to capitalize and



-Marc Maiffret




Published Monday, January 28, 2008 5:28 PM by michael


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