The Windows platform is no longer at the center of Microsoft's world. This status quo reflects Microsoft's efforts to expand to markets in addition to those for Windows and Office. And Microsoft Chief Executive Officer, Steve Ballmer, is the architect creating a new orbit for the Redmond Company, outside of Windows and Office. And as Microsoft continues to evolve, one thing is clear: Windows will get lost in the background. This because the next operating system from Microsoft will be focused and tailored on the company's Software + Services approach.
This is not to say that Microsoft will shelve the Windows business. Or that there will be no more major releases of the Windows platform. However, in the long run, Microsoft needs to deliver a viable alternative to Software as a Service. And it will do so by bundling software with service in a single answer. And SharePoint Server is the only Microsoft product that holds the key to that. While Windows and Office will still play a role, SharePoint is the company's future operating system.
At the Convergence 2007 conference in San Diego, California on March 14, 2007, Steve Ballmer, CEO, Microsoft, answered a question from the public: Is SharePoint almost like an operating system changeover?
Just browsing through Ballmer's response we can see that Microsoft's CEO indeed considers SharePoint an operating system or platform between personal productivity and business applications.
Here is Ballmer's answer in full: That's a good question. SharePoint -- how do I say this? I get asked, what is Windows? And we had a whole bunch of PR around that for a long time. When we put a browser in, that was controversial there for a while. (Laughter.) And what really is Windows? Windows is the essential set of tools for every application developer and every user. It's the core user interface model and the core services that everybody will want, particularly in terms of storage and presentation.
Office, what is Office? Well, before there was an Office there was an Excel, there was a Word, there was a PowerPoint. And so Office almost is as defined by its components as it is defined by the brand itself.
SharePoint is in some senses for me the definitive I'll call it operating system or platform for that kind of middle tier of capability that I talked about on my People Ready Business slide. It's the thing that brings the world of personal productivity and the world of line of business applications together.
I was encouraged by one of our customers who talked about the SharePoint enterprise content management services, give it a brand and give it a name; the SharePoint enterprise search services, give it a brand, give it a name; the SharePoint business intelligence services, give it a brand, give it a name; the SharePoint workflow and document management services, give it a brand, give it a name. It's a lot like Office, except we didn't brand and name the components in advance; they are just part of SharePoint itself.
But thinking about it as the definitive platform or operating system cum application for that kind of middle tier, that's probably a very reasonable way for you to think about it. And it's a very important part of our product set consequently.