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Windows opportunity: Partners to sell more services around Win 10

Execs at Microsoft's Worldwide Partner Conference told attendees they can expect Windows 10 to generate increased device sales and cloud services revenue.

ORLANDO, Fla. -- If the marketing message around Windows 10 is that it's easy to deploy, familiar to use and will make the user "feel like an expert," where's the opportunity for channel partners?

There's plenty of opportunity, according to Michael Kary, director of business development with Microsoft, and Anthony Smith, senior partner marketing manager at Microsoft, who presented today at Worldwide Partner Conference session, "Show me the money with Windows 10." The speakers boiled down the Windows opportunity for partners into five areas:

  1. selling more devices;
  2. selling more cloud services and increasing app utilization;
  3. increased return on investment (ROI) of an infrastructure practice;
  4. enhanced app profitability; and
  5. new licensing opportunities.

These opportunities pivot off of Microsoft's Windows 10 message to customers that focuses on security, productivity, devices and improved manageability -- i.e., making them easy to deploy, easy to service and keep up to date -- and app support.

A new Windows opportunity to sell devices

Windows 10 will expose a new opportunity to sell devices -- from Internet of Everything devices to the Surface Hub or HoloLens and everything in between. That's because Windows 10 moves easily from one form factor to the next, according to Kary. That includes many devices at many price points and old hardware won't be able to take advantage of many of Windows 10 features. And Windows 10 is easy to deploy on older and new devices.

The opportunity for you is consulting.
Anthony Smithsenior partner marketing manager, Microsoft

The presenter also noted that the familiarity of Windows 10 to Windows 7 users will speed the adoption of the new OS, the refresh cycle and, ultimately, the sale of new hardware.

Kary told the audience they should expect to see a broad range of new devices in multiple form factors -- large devices, Surface Hubs, clam shells, two-in-ones, tablets, etc. "What this means is that you'll be able to offer your customers a tailored solution for their problem scenario," deepening the partner's footprint into the customer base, he said.

The next generation of security features on Windows 10 will also prove attractive to partners' customers. Microsoft's goal is to move security from passwords to two-factor authentication: fingerprint scanning and facial recognition with Microsoft Windows Hello.

"Customer's existing hardware won't have a fingerprint scanner or camera for facial recognition, and they'll want these new security features," Kary said.

They'll also want Cortana, Microsoft's intelligent personal assistant, which means the hardware will need a good speaker and microphone, driving new hardware or accessory sales. Windows 10 has support for credit card readers so a customer could turn a tablet into a point-of-sale system. Kary also noted that pen and touch support in Windows 10 is greatly improved, prompting sales of touch devices.

Finally, the adoption of Windows 10 and the opportunity to drive new device revenue will also be aided by the Microsoft Windows Insider program that's been ongoing for months. The program has helped Microsoft work out the kinks to get Windows 7 and Windows 8 apps to run on Windows 10.

Windows 10 to drive cloud services

For partners selling cloud services such as Office 365 and Enterprise Mobility Suite (EMS), Windows 10 will drive sales. The best operating system for Office 365 is Windows 10, according to Kary, and EMS is the best way to manage Windows 10 machines.

Users can use the same logon credentials for Office 365 and Windows 10 and vice versa, for one secure login. Windows 10 also connects easily to OneDrive for Business, driving OneDrive usage.

For partners who haven't yet sold EMS, Kary urged them to do so. "EMS will be the fastest growing billion-dollar product in Microsoft history," he said. It provides a consistent management experience across devices and also manages Office 365 via a single console.

Out-of-the-box Windows 10 includes Enterprise Data Protection which extends the data security features in Azure Rights Management.

The presenter also stated that Windows 10 makes Azure Active Directory a first-class citizen -- giving users secure logon and single sign-on. "Azure Active Directory Premium is a fantastic tool to make sure customers get a secure cloud environment," Kary said. Azure Active Directory Premium also provides self-service and a granular log-on reporting capability -- a deal-closer, according to the presenter.

ROI and infrastructure services

As a Windows opportunity, partners could expect to earn money in several ways with the new OS, according to Smith.

For partners who didn't know it, Smith explained that Windows 10 is more like a service than a piece of software, which means that Microsoft has moved away from the traditional multi-year release cycle and will provide new features and functionality over time in one of three ways: consumers and BYOD devices will get automatic updates upon release; mission-critical corporate devices can expect enterprise-class support and control; or business devices will get the same feature updates as consumers but only after they're tested by the market and Microsoft validates the updates.

What this means to partners is that customers will need help figuring out what's best for them or figuring out what's the right balance of agility and control when it comes to deploying Windows 10 features, Smith explained.

"The opportunity for you is consulting," Smith said. Microsoft will create content to help partners understand this opportunity as well as how to build a practice, he noted.

Microsoft will also make a huge push to get users from Windows 7 and Windows 8 to Windows 10 for in-place upgrades. The company is doing several things to ease deployments, such as ending image wipe and reload, as most partners are familiar with; identifying app compatibility issues; and including Internet Explorer (IE) 11, which has backwards compatibility, in the new OS.

Microsoft support for any previous versions of IE 11, in Windows 7 or Windows 8, will stop as of January 2016.

Smith highlighted that the infrastructure services opportunity is new and extends from the initial rollout to lifecycle management of the device running Windows 10.

Bigger market for partner apps

There's also an increased profitability for app developers and independent software vendors. Smith pointed out that the majority of Windows 7 and Windows 8 apps will run on Windows 10, so existing user apps in the Windows Store will run on Windows 10.

There's a great need and opportunity for partners to create more user apps that are easy to run on all devices. Microsoft will increase the footprint of apps to one store, rather than two separate stores, to make it easier to find apps -- more visibility, more revenue.

The vendor will also offer volume purchasing for apps.

Licensing

Partners will be able to capture new licensing opportunities with Windows, Smith said.

One opportunity is with the Enterprise Cloud Suite (ECS) which includes Office 365 E3, EMS and Windows SA per user. "ECS is a frictionless way to get customers to the cloud and drive up license revenue," he said.

There's also a per-user and per-device license with Windows. In addition, there will also be more and new editions to sell for volume licensing.

With change comes complexity, which is good for partners who could step in to help customers choose the right licensing model for them (per user or per device?). Partners need to understand the new licensing scenarios -- which are more complex than outlined here -- to help customers determine the right model for them.

Next Steps

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How will your company address the Windows opportunity around consulting, cloud services and device sales supporting Win 10?
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