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Microsoft To Pump Higher Octane On Partner Programs

For those who love Microsoft code names, here's another. "Octane" is the term used to refer to Microsoft's evolving worldwide partner programs and initiatives under development.

For those who love Microsoft code names, here's another. "Octane" is the term used to refer to Microsoft's evolving worldwide partner programs and initiatives under development.

Not a lot of details yet, so stay tuned. But Octane is viewed as the son of the current "Next Generation Partner Program" which is now in year three. Or is it four? Anyway, the new programs and initiatives are to cover the next couple of years. (For more on NGPP, see this story.)

The company claims leadership (backed by IDC and other numbers) in its partner initiatives over software rivals. But big challenges loom, particularly as customers (and partners) warn that Vista upgrades aren't happening as planned. A lot will hinge on the willingness of customers to upgrade to Vista and Office 2007. And then there's the whole shift to Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) model that has obsessed the company which is increasingly obsessed with all things Google. Or Google-ish.

As for partners, it should be a no-brainer, but it bears repeating that continued success for Microsoft will also rest on the ability for third parties—and not just Microsoft—to make money off of Vista and Office 2007. And, longer term, on whatever else Microsoft has up its sleeve.

Thus far, many partners say that Office 2007 is a much easier sale than Vista, because of demonstrable new perks.

On Vista, however, word out of the trenches is that very few customers are upgrading existing hardware to the new Windows client. Why not? They don't want to fork over cash for a new OS that will actually run slower than the incumbent on their existing hardware. Net, net, they'll upgrade when they buy new hardware. If then. This cannot be comforting in Redmond, after the company spent so much time on the Vista hardware certification effort..

Here's the rundown (paraphrased) from one long time partner. (Give me a break, we were at brunch and there were some adult beverages on hand.)

"While Microsoft says it's cheap for business users to upgrade—they keep throwing the $89-per-desktop figure around, but the fact remains very few existing PCs will run Vista optimally. You have to upgrade some hardware, so that's another couple hundred dollars. Then they have to pay me. So they ain't moving," he notes.

Oh, back to Octane. It's still very early in the process. This week's news of a plan to compensate "influencers" in a software sale will play a role, for sure but sources say not to look for anything on this to come out of this week's Convergence 2007 show in San Diego.

But one could bet news will be seeping out at the upcoming Worldwide Partner Conference in Denver, however.

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