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Microsoft's customer choice with software-plus-services vision

Software-plus-services offers many benefits for partners, according to Microsoft developer and platform strategy group director Sean McBreen.

He was speaking at the recent Microsoft Partner Connectionz conference.

Software-plus-services, Microsoft’s vision of software-as-a-service, is a model blending packaged software with internet-delivered or hosted services.

“We think the model is a differentiator for the Microsoft platform. But it’s also about composing lots of different services into a new class of application. Leading organisations are asking how they host the products and embracing new business opportunities as well.”

McBreen says partners can deliver additional value by adding service-level agreements on top of the model or enrich functionality of other people’s services.

“For the people in this room there is a huge opportunity in the user experience, for those who want to partner with design or marketing agencies, to start delivering next-generation solutions for your customers.”

Software plus services is about choice, says McBreen.

“We do see a number of key things in the marketplace, which people want to think about when they’re buying applications from members like yourselves, building applications or integrating applications. You want to do business on a plane as well as at the office and home. You want it to be a unified experience.”

According to McBreen, local companies are already working on applications that embody software-plus-services.

“For example, Xero is a small business offering a rich web content. It’s really about making accounting accessible to small businesses in New Zealand, the UK and US. It is going to be building mobile alerts using SMS messages, which are good things for small businesses to know and Xero can do this from the server.

“The core value is around its financial processing back-end where data is stored on its website and it composes a number of key services. The company works with banks and seamlessly integrates a bank in its transaction records. So when you open the system at the beginning of the day, you can match your books against what is happening in your bank account.”

McBreen says partners will not have to learn too many new skills to sell the software-plus-services concept.

“We’re not trying to get you to create brand-new skills in the way that you approach this market. The skills today around our platform pass over to this new era. What you do have to understand is the new paradigm. I wouldn’t want to focus on a low-end part of the business, but a high-end part of the business to make sure you are having the right conversations.”

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