Microsoft Partner Summit, Durban – When the going gets tough, they say, the tough get going. But it seems that the going has now got so tough, that the gloves have come off between Microsoft and some of its fiercest rivals.
In his keynote address to delegates, Microsoft MD Mteto Nyati had the usual pop at its traditional "competitors". But, upping the ante – and for the first time that this hack can remember in 25 years – he threw up a slide highlighting four rival companies that he says Microsoft SA will openly target to take business from.
Traditional foe Oracle was obviously one of the four as Microsoft continues to cross swords with Larry Ellison's outfit for a bigger slice of the lucrative database market.
But then Nyati surprised – and delighted many delegates – by announcing that VMware, IBM and Novell would be specifically targeted in the South African market by Microsoft.
"VMware's model in the virutalisation space is high cost, low volume, but we're coming with a different model," Nyati says. "Virtualisation can't be the preserve of a few and we want to give our customers an affordable rate – so we're introducing a low cost, high volume model.
"The market can decide which model will win," he says.
Nyati, who used to work for IBM before his appointment at Microsoft, says the company will look to aggressively erode Big Blue's Lotus Notes base. He raised a few giggles with his barbed jibe that "just moving across, you can feel so liberated."
And he was equally aggressive when it came to Novell Groupwise.
"There's no real roadmap for Groupwise, no new development," he says. "Our customers have to move from that platform to something else. And, instead of going to something like Lotus Notes, let's help them move to the right platform."
Asked later why Microsoft didn't have Google on its South African hitlist, Nyati was almost dismissive of the local search organisation.
"At a corporate level, Google is a key competitor, but in South Africa they have little impact on our bottom line," he says.
As one veteran delegate put it after Nyati's keynote: "He certainly opened the kimono a bit."
We'd suggest that he's not only opened the kimono, but discarded it – and replaced it with a ninja jumpsuit and katana.