Microsoft SME Strategy

An excellent story in Information Week analysing Microsoft’s moves following its recent purchase of Navision (coming after the previous buy of Great Plains):

Microsoft wants to sell small and midsize companies low-cost, ready-to-assemble enterprise resource planning, supply-chain, financial, and other run-the-business applications. The blueprint calls for Web services to weave them all together.

As Gates envisions the world, desktop and business applications will be woven together via Web services to let IT departments mix and match applications across networks, with less middleware, custom integration, and consulting work. Microsoft officials give the example of an Excel spreadsheet user accessing inventory data from a supplier’s remote server. This desktop-to-back office architecture, seamlessly linking people and systems within and across companies, will provide an IT backbone for collaborative business, Gates says. The linchpin will be XML, the development language and Web-services standard, incorporated in development tools, databases, and the apps themselves.

We’ve been thinking along these lines also: enterprise software Legos which can be put together on the server. The difference: in our view, the SMEs use Thin Clients, Linux on the Thick Server, and pay USD 5 per person per month. Its for the SMEs in the world’s low-income countries, who cannot afford the high cost of computers and the increasingly higher cost of software.

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Rajesh Jain

An Entrepreneur based in Mumbai, India.