Enterprises join third party developers at Microsoft's DevCon

Microsoft and mobile partners unite toward a common goal: "making money"

Developers were ushered into Microsoft's mobile world as the software vendor ramped up its enterprise focus at the Microsoft Mobile and Embedded DevCon 2007 (MEDC) in Sydney this week.

Held annually for Australian and New Zealand developers, device manufacturers and consumers of Microsoft's mobile software and embedded platforms, MEDC this year featured a new stream, "Windows Mobile Devices in Today's Enterprise", in addition to its mobile and embedded development streams.

Presentations in the new stream were conducted by representatives of Microsoft, as well as its independent software vendor (ISV) partners, and aimed at educating enterprise users on horizontal applications of mobile technologies in the enterprise, such as purchase order approvals, leave forms, and Salesforce information.

"We've always worked very well with the ISVs, and now we've decided to pull in the enterprise stream," said Rick Anderson, enterprise mobility solution specialist at Microsoft in Australia.

While the vendor's recognition of enterprise developers is expected to better equip in-house developers in deploying and integrating Microsoft's mobile applications in their organizations, Anderson foresees a growing opportunity for third party developers.

Michele Freed, general manager of Microsoft's mobile information worker product group agreed.

"Most software that is written everywhere in the world is not written by vendors like Microsoft; it's written by third party developers and enterprises themselves," Freed said.

"These people [ISVs] are considered a key part of our product team. We take their feedback very seriously," she said.

According to Anderson, Microsoft enjoys a close two-way relationship with its partners and supports ISVs through constant communication, sales leads, product previews, and networking opportunities with the vendor and other partners.

In addition to its three-tier hierarchy of registered, certified and gold-certified ISVs, Microsoft also invites expert partners into an elite Most Valuable Professional (MVP) program.

True to its reputation as a capitalist proprietor, however, entrance into the upper tiers of Microsoft's partner program comes with a fee. Certified and gold-certified ISVs pay $3150 annually, in addition to costs of required certifications and event participation fees.

It is precisely Microsoft's unabashed approach to business that endears it to MVP James McCutcheon, who is Chief Software Architect of Sydney-based j3 Technology. McCutcheon made no secret of the partners' common goal: "to make money together".

Recruited as an ISV about three years ago for his expertise in mobile operating system Symbian, McCutcheon said Microsoft has since overtaken Palm and Nokia to dominate about 95 percent of j3's product offerings.

"It's important to have a partner behind you," he said.

"It's given me a direct connection to Microsoft and direct corroboration in marketing campaigns," he said. "It's an easy sell for me, and my IDE is the best of breed."

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