2. Get virtualized
Game on. For years critics said comparing the virtualization tools from VMware and Microsoft was like comparing LeBron James to that tall kid down the block who plays basketball in his driveway. Microsoft has jettisoned James from its TV advertising campaign, but VMware is still around and still the ever-present all-star. With Microsoft's Hyper-V now firmly on IT's radar as part of Windows Server 2008, and with the recession now official and reinforcing virtualization's cost-saving benefits, Microsoft will deploy a full-court press in order to make its case that Hyper-V was worth the wait.
3. Bury Vista, roll a lucky 7
Microsoft will spend less time trying to convince people that Vista is a good operating system with a bum rap and more time moving on to the slick UI enhancements and IT benefits of Windows 7. Like Ozzie with Azure, Windows 7 could be the legacy moment for Steven Sinofsky, who made his name stamping out versions of Office before taking over the Windows team. Sinofsky will deliver the first feature-complete beta version of Windows 7 in early 2009, and then the chatter will reach a fever pitch as to its merits and whether Sinofsky can deliver it in time for the holiday buying season.
4. Storm the Googleplex
Microsoft vs. Google. With Microsoft moving quickly into the service realm and with Google eyeing the enterprise, this battle will be as hot as ever in 2009. The two have coffers stuffed with cash, executives with big ideas and a passion to stomp the other into submission. The most active battlefield is likely to be around productivity applications with Web-based versions of Office applications slated from Microsoft and Google trying desperately to put IT features into its Apps platform. Of course, there will always be the fight for advertising dollars and search eyeballs, but with Google's sizable lead it isn't likely to feel much heat from Microsoft in those areas.
5. Watson. Come here. I need you.
That phrase signaled the first revolution in voice; will OCS (Office Communications Server) signal the next? Microsoft wants nothing less than to drive the PBX into software. With some shaky players on the traditional telecom side, including partner Nortel, the time could be ripe for a big strategic push given that OCS 2007 R2 is slated to ship in February with features that will eliminate the need for on-premises gateways to handle VoIP calls.
Other issues Microsoft can't afford to ignore include the race to build interoperability with open source software, document formats and virtualized servers. Plus, Silverlight could be a game changer in terms of defining the standard for rich Internet applications. In the Office 14 arena, questions around when, what and why will finally get answers. Finally, will a Microsoft-branded phone/device emerge (think Zune-like) to challenge iPhone, BlackBerry, and Android?
Network World is an InfoWorld affiliate.