With Windows Azure and Office 365, Microsoft is hoping to sell cloud services to the enterprise. One of Microsoft’s biggest challenge is the problem of pushing significant upgrades to these products. Since they’ve been implemented and the administrators don’t exactly like to fix something when it isn’t broke, Microsoft has introduced a new concept in their product lifecycle.

Referred to as “Disruptive Change” Microsoft will notify clients about changes that require significant intervention from the administrators. According to Microsoft, these changes will include:

  • Changes to the user experience
  • Data migration
  • Required updates to client software

In case of these upgrades, Microsoft will send out directives 12 months before implementing these changes. This however does not include security updates – those will be pushed I’d assume asap.

There are two ways to look at it, one would be Microsoft streamlining their upgrades and keeping the clients in the loop, the other would be slow upgrades. An yearly cycle to roll out an upgrade would mean quite a bit of time working on the set of upgrades. In the consumer market this does matter but from what I understand enterprises are always apprehensive. Part of what holds Microsoft back. While the old idea of breaking Microsoft into two entities is utterly stupid, Microsoft internally needs to find a way to address the consumer and enterprise market.

The enterprise is a big chunk of Microsoft revenues. They certainly can’t afford to introduce “Disruptive Changes” which is what Apple’s iPad is.

Mary Jo (if she wasn’t a journo she’d be an awesome detective) came across a slide deck showing Microsoft’s plans for the tablet market. Enterprises don’t like disruptive changes. This is not to say the people don’t like the iPad. But if asked, the same people would choose interoperability over UI. That’s the problem Microsoft is dealing with. I wrote about Microsoft’s tablet dilemma a while back where the basic premise was the multiple operating systems Microsoft has. The slides however show a different picture, one that has Microsoft split to the core. On one side is addressing the enterprise requirement of the boring features and the other is making sexy tablet.

The features listed in the slides are all present in Windows. Microsoft spends considerable time and effort on Windows, now introducing these features in another platform and have a different UI, sounds like an extra effort. Quite a bit of it. This would explain why Microsoft continues to foster dreams of having Windows – the desktop version, on tablets. Same set of features, keeps enterprise administrators happy and Microsoft doesn’t need to invest in another platform.

Windows for touch (and tablets) isn’t a bad idea but the UI needs to be rethought and we’ve already read about different UIs and experiences Microsoft plans for their next version of Windows.

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