Microsoft is primed for a comeback in 2015

In the cloud and on premises, Microsoft's deluge of product revisions is sure to please the whole gamut of users

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As active as Microsoft was in 2014, especially with Azure and Office 365, I believe 2015 will prove to be doubly exciting. In addition to continuing efforts on Azure and Office 365, we'll see Microsoft release the new multiplatform-savvy Office, the Windows 10 OS for both desktop and mobile device (with Cortana built in), the next-generation Windows Server (complete with cool storage enhancements), and new versions of Hyper-V and PowerShell.

I know it's early, but I’m proclaiming Windows 10 a winner based on what I’ve seen so far.  We’ll know more soon enough, but I believe Redmond heard the cry for change from Windows 8 and will give people what they want.

Office 2016 has me curious. I’m not sure it will (or should) be so different from Office 2013, except for a few more hooks into Office 365 and better tie-ins to Microsoft's communication and collaboration features.

I believe the new Windows Server will be incredibly important (along with releases expected in late 2015 of Exchange 2016 and SharePoint 2016) because it will provide a stable on-premises option for IT organizations not yet ready to jump all in with Azure or Office 365 cloud services. Whether we'll see 2018 editions of Windows Server, Exchange, or SharePoint is an open question. But between now and then, there will be plenty of organizations unwilling to jump into the cloud but ready to spend a little money and increase the capabilities of on-premises servers.

At the same time I think we’ll continue to see Office 365 and Azure gain ground. Office 365 has had a fantastic year in terms of selling licenses, but there is still a disconnect between licenses purchased and the number of people using it in the cloud. After all, Office 365 remains a traditional download onto your PC, Mac, or iOS device, with Exchange and OneDrive as its true cloud components. I bet the Office part of Office 365 will become more cloudlike this year.

By contrast, the Azure team still has work to do if it wants to gain greater market share. For starters, it needs to come up with better prices to encourage organizations with paid-for hardware to fork over the heavy monthly fees of Microsoft's cloud-based infrastructure. So far, other than for R&D, I keep hearing the price is still too high. With plenty of other offerings in the market, most with better uptime promises, a price cut may be in order for 2015. (Based on 2014 uptime numbers, a more stable 2015 is hopefully in store for Azure.)

The fact is, 2015 is Microsoft’s year no matter how much Microsoft customers embrace the cloud. Windows 10, Windows Server, Azure, Office 365 ... for Microsoft, it’s a win from every angle. 

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