Home Microsoft acquisitions and product strategies

Microsoft acquisitions and product strategies

The Microsoft VC Summit
2006 happened a week or two ago, but I’ve only just had a chance to review the posts that
came out of it. If you’re interested in where Microsoft is headed with its product range
and general Web strategy, there are some nuggets in the coverage. Don Dodge from the
Microsoft Emerging Business Team covered
the acquisitions
part of the Summit. He noted that Microsoft has made 22 acquisitions
totaling nearly $1B over the past 12 months, compared to just 9 acquisitions the previous
year. What’s more, “the acquisition pace is likely to accelerate.” Given that Microsoft
acquisitions “typically fill in holes in our product roadmap” and are usually
technology-focused rather than business-focused (i.e. revenue/profits), it’s interesting
to note what market segments Microsoft has been buying into. Don listed them:

10 of the 22 acquisitions were for MSN and Windows Live (which can in essence be
viewed as one and the same, considering content and services overlap so much these days).
Also while Don notes that many of the above are consumer-facing services, a lot of
consumer technologies are seeping into the enterprise market – as businesses take
advantage of the hybrid, collaborative and ‘best of breed’ nature of web 2.0 consumer
products. I also note the multi-device and multimedia nature of Microsoft’s 22
acquisitions – two mobile, two VoIP acquisitions, two video gaming, three
mapping/imaging, and an “Application Transfer” company.

I’m probably reading a bit much into the acquisitions, because who really knows what
Microsoft has managed to build in-house and so didn’t need to acquire. But if anything
the acquisitions do confirm that Microsoft is very much focused on ‘media’ and consumer
technologies, under the MSN and Live umbrellas. Steve Ballmer himself said, when
adCenter was released at the beginning of May 2006, that Microsoft wants to be a media company. So the
list of acquisitions sheds a little more light on that.

In other coverage of the MS VC Summit, Jeff Clavier made some excellent notes. He
confirms that “Windows: The Live Software Ecosystem” is a major target of investment for
Microsoft. He also noted yet another web 2.0 definition, but very appropriate for
Microsoft (and Apple, Yahoo, Google for that matter): “Web 2.0 = Intelligence in all
devices, and communication between all devices.” Jeff had some great comments about the
consumer/enterprise mashup too, including quoting Ballmer as saying that “Microsoft will
deliver SN [social networking] functionality in their products for the enterprise.”

EdSim also posted about
the event
and I particularly took note of his observation that communications and
collaboration are key in Office 2007. In another post, VC Rick Segal
that Office 2007 will continue to be a leading software platform:

“…my suggestion to you when looking for a place to innovate and ride some of the
MSFT coattail is to dig into Office, Sharepoint, Live Communications Server, and all of
the developer opportunities contained within these products.”

So all in all, nothing too surprising in all this. But it puts some more product
around Microsoft’s well-documented move to be a ‘software as a service’ and
media company.

Photo: nilssons — “Bill
Gates, CEO of Microsoft, throws a Windows 1.0 floppy disk in his office soon after the
product’s release. 1985 Bellevue, Washington, USA.”

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