Foley on Microsoft

After Windows 8, What's Next in the Pipeline from Microsoft?

Mary Jo Foley on what to expect from Microsoft once the Windows 8 dust clears.

The Windows 8 and Windows Phone 8 launch parties are now behind us, though the marketing and promotion -- the ads, giveaways and gimmicks -- will linger through the holidays for two of Redmond's biggest make-or-break products. But as the dust clears, what's next from Microsoft?

Let's put aside products predicted to arrive in two or three more years, such as Windows 9. There are a number of more immediate consumer- and business-centric products, services and devices coming in the next 12 months from the 'Softies. And I'm not talking just about toys such as the Xbox dashboard update and Halo 4.

Office Next/Office 2013 -- the client apps, the servers and the cloud services -- were released to manufacturing in October, a month earlier than many expected. General availability won't be until early 2013, but volume licensees and MSDN and TechNet subscribers will get the final bits sooner.

Also due by year's end is the fall update to Microsoft Dynamics CRM -- the one that will support iOS, Android and Windows Phone. In addition, Dynamics GP 2013, which could be the first of the four Microsoft ERP products hosted on Windows Azure, is slated for release before 2012 closes.

To kick off the new year, the Intel-based version of the Microsoft Surface PC/tablet is expected to start shipping. But that's not all that's due in early 2013.

Microsoft is slated to release System Center 2012 Service Pack 1 and the fourth version of the Microsoft Windows Intune PC management and security service -- both of which are key to the management of Windows RT-based devices -- in early 2013. Also due in that time frame is Windows Azure services for Windows Server 2012. Initially targeted at hosting companies, but later at large enterprises, the product will enable persistent VM support for Linux and Windows Server on servers hosted by third parties, and not just by those using Windows Azure hosted by Microsoft.

Beyond the first quarter of next year, incomplete roadmaps are filled with more potholes. But according to tipsters, the first update to Windows 8, known by its codename "Blue," could arrive by mid-2013. So far, there aren't many details as to what Blue will include, but it's likely some kind of combined service pack or feature pack -- similar to Visual Studio 2012 Update 1, also on deck to arrive by next month.

Why is it so hard to get any information on Microsoft products beyond the carefully controlled Windows 8 and Windows Phone 8 bits with which we've been graced? A little inside baseball will shed some light on that question.

For the past year-plus, Microsoft top brass have been striving to create an image of a unified "One Microsoft." I'll emphasize "image," because in reality Microsoft is still a bunch of mini-companies operating -- to a somewhat lesser degree than in years past -- independently and at sometimes odds with one another. The desired public perception is that One Microsoft is one-pointedly focused on Windows 8.

Questions about System Center, Forefront, Exchange Server and other Microsoft flagship business products have gone unanswered so as not to detract from the "it's all about Windows 8" message. Never mind that most of the products in the Microsoft billion-dollar-business club are business/enterprise ones, or that business product sales are still what fuel the company. Redmond's goal in 2012 was to have all eyes trained on its consumer wares.

This explains the silence around SharePoint Server, Lync Server, System Center 2012 Service Pack 1, Hadoop for Windows Server and other Microsoft goodies that are believed to be just around the corner.

The dearth of information isn't just the result of Redmond's increased desire to be more Apple-like in its ability to keep secrets. It's also about the desire to make users believe Microsoft is a consumer device and services company like Apple, more than a business stalwart like IBM, Oracle or SAP.

Which Microsoft business-centric products and services do you want more information about? Send me a note and I'll try my best to move some Microsoft mountains -- or at least push aside some boulders.



About the Author

Mary Jo Foley is editor of the ZDNet "All About Microsoft" blog and has been covering Microsoft for about two decades. She has a new book out, Microsoft 2.0 (John Wiley & Sons, May 2008), about what's next for Microsoft in the post-Gates era.

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Reader Comments:

Sat, Feb 2, 2013 Tech Dodo Barrackpore

A win8 secularity come. Hopeless

Sun, Jan 6, 2013

It seems to me that Microsoft is running out of interest and seems to keep eliminating the extras. Windows 7 decided to Eliminate Microsoft office task manager which was a disappointment to many people who loved it. Vista was an excellent program that was very similar to XP but people were listening to too much speculation from those who had no clue to what it offered so those who actually has vista program somewhat got the short end of the stick because windows 7 was too anxious to bring out the next product. What I don't understand is why Microsoft can't wait 5 years to bring out the next product so they can continue to work on improvement. Windows 8 is no different than 7. All it offers is a change on the desktop....whoops do,!!! YHow about adding new features that will be more useful like a better improvement on Microsoft office task manager with a few more design templates for different business or home use. A more user friendly customize page. I am almost ready to switch over to Apple since there would be no loss in what you purchased. You definitely get more for your money with Apple products. Microsoft just seems to keep getting greedy.

Fri, Dec 28, 2012 Jason India

Microsoft should merge windows 8 with windows phone8,that is the only thing left to be done with regards to OS convergence and mobility.This single step can make microsoft get past both apple and android competition and establish itself again in the pc/mobile market.

Mon, Nov 5, 2012 Fredrik Sweden

How hard can it be? Microsoft is like the record industry. They are stuck in business models from the stone age. The are so deep into it that they don´t even notice how sick it is. Here is som advises free of charge. 1. Get rid of the OEM licensing once and forever. Don´t let PC manufacturers totally destroy you windowsexperiance!!! Produce a new kind of "nexus" logo och certification for Windows. Once you have used a PC full with bloatware you hate it and the next time you choose an Apple or Android product that isn´t full och shit from the factory. Worst of all even if you want to do a clean install they dont have to provide you with a media that is clean from bloatware!!!! Sell Windows 8 RT and Windows 8 and nothing more to choose from. Sell it for about 50 dollars (and no upgrade bullshit that´s only confusing). Sell cloudbased management (intune) with reasonable pricing 5 dollars per month and user and make it possible to connect any windows licens to it. Today you buy a brand new computer, if you want to connect it to intune feel free but you have to buy a new operatingsystem??? In other means you cannot connect your computer without upgrading to windows bla bla bla enterprice edition. I DONT WANT ENTERPRICE, I WANT TO CONNECT MY COMPUTER TO THE INTUNE SERVICE. I thought that this time Microsoft was back on track but the more i google i can se that its the same mistake like before. Volume licensing, windows 8 home edition etc OEM licensing, The bloatware thing and so on and so on. The office 365 in the cloud is something that they have done right. A very good service and reasonable pricing, hat of. What is their issue with operating system???? They cannot sell it in a descent way. They have to make it hard for the users and buyers!!!!

Thu, Nov 1, 2012 Jim California

After Windows 8 will likely be something else that nobody needs or wants but will cost them anyway.

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