You can use a lot of words to describe Microsoft: Monopolistic? Maybe. Manipulative? Perhaps. Educational? At times. No matter what words you choose, you have to give Microsoft credit. When it wants to be player in a market, it doesn’t hold back. In the case of planting a flag in the ASP ground, it’s attacking like only Microsoft can. And part of that attack is an information campaign. Regardless of which side you are on, information is a good thing —: especially in the ASP industry.
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The ASP market is still, in some respects, in its nascent stages and anything that helps to educate is a positive. Microsoft delivers volumnes in its two-CD The Guide to Developing and Marketing Host Applications Services directory, which is free. Sure, it’s colored by Microsoft’s view of the ASP world, but it’s also a great source for the ASP industry.
You will, of course, find details on .NET and Microsoft enterprise servers. But there is also plenty of more-general information. For example, it includes a PDF file of a sample SLA (service level agreements) and reports on topics such as “Winning as an ASP” and “How to Build a Profitable Hosted Service.” There are also dozen of white papers, PowerPoint presentations, technical backgrounders, market advice and so on.
According to Andre Wiesmann, ASP marketing manager for Microsoft, the guide, which debuted last summer, originally covered only ASP licensing and development issues. Since then, 140,000 copies of the guide have been distributed and it’s now up to Version 3.
For content, Microsoft turned to one of its partners. “Allegrix was doing a good job in terms of education, so we licensed their intellectual property,” Wiesmann said.
Version 2, which came out last fall, had more on the .Net platform and Microsoft servers. Version 3 is the product of survey results, in which users asked for “more on the business models, sales and SLAs.” Wiesmann said. “For example, how do you pay salespeople? If you sold a shrinkwrapped version, how do you handle commissions [for hosted software]?”
“We don’t stop here,” Wiesmann said. “Partners need more on how to work with customers, more on marketing.” Version 4 — due out in the fall — will also include more on Visual Studio.net, according to Wiesmann. Weismann also hinted that the name of the guide may change to reflect more of a .Net focus.
The guide can be order from Microsoft. Standard shipping (which can take a few weeks) in the U.S. is free. Outside of the U.S., you must pay for shipping. And — if you simply can’t wait — you can have it shipped express, on your dime.