Microsoft Brings Desktop Management To The Channel

On Monday at its worldwide partner conference in Denver, Microsoft unveiled Windows Partner Solutions, which combines Vista Enterprise Edition with Microsoft's Desktop Optimization Pack (DOP), a subscription offering for Software Assurance maintenance contract customers that includes technologies from several recent Microsoft acquisitions.

DOP includes application virtualization software from Softricity, inventory services from AssetMetrix, group policy management software from DesktopStandard, and recovery software from Winternals.

Since introducing Desktop Optimization Pack in January, Microsoft has sold more than 2 million licenses, many to enterprises looking to tackle desktop management issues, said Brad Brooks, general manager for Windows product marketing.

"It's amazing not just how fast the customers are buying [DOP], but also how fast it's getting deployed in their environments," said Brooks.

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Partners will resell and transact the Windows Partner Solutions mainly in the context of how they can offer their own services, Brooks said. For example, partners can virtualize applications, manage the transition, and handle asset management for desktops and other infrastructure, Brooks said.

Microsoft expects Windows Partner Solutions to catch on most quickly in companies with between 100 and 1,000 employees. However, these customers aren't aware of DOP because thus far it has been sold direct.

That's going to change soon, as Microsoft is in the process of showing partners how to align their businesses with Windows Partner Solutions, create services around it, and talk to customers about it, said Brooks.

"Channel partners previously couldn't sell a solution oriented approach starting at the client. That's a new way to talk to your customer," Brooks said.

Microsoft is putting together tools and training packets around Windows Partner Solutions, which partners will be able to use to sell optimized PCs and managed desktop services to small and midsize customers, Brooks said.

By rolling out Windows Partner Solutions, Microsoft is helping partners to connect the client to backend and services functions, Brooks noted. "This is about allowing partners to have different dialogue than in the past, starting with the desktop and being able to create solutions at the desktop."

Microsoft expects that partners could see margins up to $120 on a per engagement, per-seat basis with Windows Partner Solutions, according to Brooks.

Windows Partner Solutions marks a shift for Microsoft away from selling DOP to enterprises towards a more channel-oriented approach, Brooks noted.

"We haven't focused on that breadth channel around the Windows space ... because we needed to get it right. It's a new way for us to engage this channel," said Brooks.

Windows Partner Solutions is also geared toward boosting Vista adoption rates, Brooks said.

"The security value and the cost reduction values are so real in terms of what we're doing with Windows Vista. Getting customers off of XP or older generations as fast as possible and [getting Vista] deployed quickly is going to be the big push next year," said Brooks.