SAN DIEGO--Even for Microsoft,
it's not easy being green.
After making several acquisitions to
get itself in the business applications game, Microsoft developed
"Project Green," an effort that would bring the various products
under a single code base in a few years.
"It's a tough challenge. Some of it
was expected to be tough, and some of it was even tougher than
what was expected."
senior vice president,
However, the timetable for the plan turned out to be both quicker
than customers wanted and sooner than Microsoft could deliver.
At its annual Convergence conference
here on Monday, Microsoft laid out a plan that will get the company
there--eventually. Befitting the event's coastal California locale,
Microsoft Senior Vice President Doug Burgum laid out a plan where
the commonality will come to the disparate products in a series of
"I think this is innovation without
as much disruption." Burgum said at a press conference.
Initially, Microsoft is focusing on
a couple of areas. One is drawing each of the business applications
closer to other Microsoft products, namely adding business
intelligence features that tie into its SQL Server database and
portal services from the company's SharePoint product line. The
other effort focuses on allowing the products to share a common Web
services structure to connect with one another and with other
software. That wave starts now, but is likely to continue until
A second wave, running through the
end of the decade, is tied to Microsoft's Longhorn era of products
and gets the company closer, but not all the way toward its goal of
a single shared code base. The company plans to tap advances not
just in the operating system, but also in the next version of the
company's Visual Studio programming tools.
For example, Burgum said the second
wave will take advantage of the all-new WinFS file system to allow
companies to track business information when it heads beyond the
realm of so-called structured data and into things like e-mail.
As for the rest of the code base
integration, Burgum said he hopes the effort will come about in some
sort of third wave but acknowledges it is taking Microsoft longer
than it hoped to get to its vision.
"It's a tough challenge," he said in
an interview. "Some of it was expected to be tough, and some of it
was even tougher than what was expected."
In addition to the challenges of
moving to a common code base, the company has also delayed two
nearer-term releases, updates to Axapta, an enterprise resource
planning tool, and Microsoft CRM products--or products for managing
"We had choices in both cases,"
Burgum said. "Do you hit the release date and cut features, or do
you keep the feature set and push the release date out? In both
cases, there was pressure from customers and partners to add
The unit also has its challenges on
the business side. Whereas it once hoped to be making money by the
end of this fiscal year, the company now says that it is not
planning on profitability for the near future as it invests in
moving into new markets--both new countries and new products, such
as a small business accounting program.
CEO Steve Ballmer laid out the path
for the unit at a partner conference last year: Make the world
"We're a long ways away from that,"
Burgum told reporters. "In a lot of places, we are in the single