Monday, November 24, 2008

SharePoint is good for Microsoft's partners

In my conversations with component makers there is optimism that Microsoft will permit its partners to fill the gaps left where its platform ends and customer use cases begin. Many of those companies believe that developers will be as receptive to buying Web parts as they are to buying .NET controls today.

Of course, the opposite might happen - SharePoint has become big business for Microsoft (a billion dollar product). The company is facing increased competition, and may cycle more of its resources to SharePoint in response.

That would take the wind out of its partners' sails. Amid an uncertain economic outlook and rumors of upcoming consolidation in the component market, the prospect of coming to pass could leave some of its partners jittery, and it has.

I'm led to believe that Microsoft will do what it has always done, build a platform and its partners will live in the ecosystem that forms around it. Visual Studio 2010 is evidence of the direction Redmond is going: VS 2010 has new tooling to make it easier for developers to debug, debug and design SharePoint sites.

Microsoft may seed SharePoint with some Web parts just as it has bundled rudimentary controls with Silverlight 2, but there is nothing to indicate that it intends to intrude upon its partners' domain. In fact, the opposite may be true. If more customers are building SharePoint sites, there will be more demand for specialized Web parts, and consequently more opportunity for its partners.

Microsoft should make its intentions known and nurture the growth of the SharePoint ecosystem just as it has done for Visual Studio, COM and .NET.

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