In the 1960s, the late folk singer Phil Ochs said that the way to get out of Vietnam was to declare victory and leave. Microsoft seems to be following the same philosophy with Project Green.
There has been a lot of speculation about when Project Green, the code name for the next-generation accounting product, will hit the market. In the spring, Doug Burgum, president of Microsoft Business Solutions, detailed two waves in the move towards Green. But in the meantime, MBS will continue to support its four accounting products, for five years after the last version of each hits the market, which is still until 2013 or so.
At last weekend's Microsoft Worldwide Reseller Conference, Burgum took it a step further. In discussing new features that have been introduced into the current line of products, he told an audience, "Green is here."
The talk was confident. Most resellers said that the last quarter has been strong and that Microsoft made its numbers for the fiscal year that ended June 30, which doesn't necessarily mean that the company made money.
But I kept getting a sense that something is not quite right--that something is up. It may be as simple as the fact that there is still no earthly reason to put the MBS resellers together in the same show as the thousands of Microsoft Classic VARs. Keynotes were mercilessly short. But content on breakouts was reportedly light. I've talked to VARs who sent fewer representatives this year and may send fewer next year.
It could just be that such shows are on their way to obsolescence, the way Comdex collapsed of its own weight. Resellers and press alike complained of the bad planning, which one attributed to the number of outside contractors used to put the show together.
But the one puzzling thing was the lack of access to the top execs. Public relations people said that Burgum did fewer individual interviews because the show was shorter. He would be giving group interviews to press and analysts, although the usual gathering of those forces didn't happen.
The next message was that execs would mingle with the press at a reception Friday night. One mingled, and it wasn't Burgum or any of his chief advisors, although most were available for individual interviews. It was hard to shake the feeling that execs were deliberately unavailable.
Maybe the paranoia isn't necessary. Maybe it was the same kind of bad planning that meant that the conference wasn't publicized on the opening MBS Web page, or that Burgum's question and answer session, a conference staple, was listed merely as a general session until a few days before it was held.
I would say something could be up. But I never underestimate the power of people to botch things, or the fact that this show just doesn't make sense anymore.
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