Microsoft's acquisition of Navision and Great Plains clearly signalled that the market for business applications was next on Bill's hit list.
And such is the power of Microsoft that we'll have to work with it and around it. For in the future, surely no one will ever get fired for choosing a .Net platform.
However, the prospect of every business in the country running their business off identical Microsoft applications is actually extremely unlikely.
Despite the pull of .Net, Microsoft enterprise applications are not necessarily destined to become endemic.
Many firms might have surrendered the desktop to Microsoft, and many might feel safest with the .Net architecture. However, many others will also look elsewhere for mission-critical enterprise applications.
Many IT buyers are unwilling to put all of their eggs in one basket, sometimes motivated by the logic that it's prudent to spread the IT risk among a number of suppliers. Others are sceptical of Microsoft's ability to deliver mission-critical business applications.
Microsoft is still unproven in the enterprise application market. The products Navision and Great Plains developed were functionally rich, but it will take time to bring these product suites together.
So, in the meantime, vendors and VARs should work together to leapfrog the great monolith and deliver products to market first. Businesses want applications that are developed to meet their specific needs.
Many buyers will be looking for pedigree suppliers that understand end-user and business needs, and can tailor software to meet both. We can make most of the .Net platform and work with Microsoft to vendor, reseller and customer advantage.
And by doing so, there's an opportunity for suppliers with the right products to carve out their own corner in this crowded market.
So as VARs seek a success strategy in the enterprise software market, an intelligent approach is to work with suppliers whose products embrace the Microsoft platform but provide alternative applications.
Companies may like the security of knowing the Microsoft platform is there, but for applications they want a firm that knows the business and has easy-to-use applications. Resellers that can provide this and support it with value-added service will stand out from the Microsoft crowd.
Kevin Jones is chief executive of eXant
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