As we leap with unbounded excitement in to another financial year, colloquially called FY07, we have an initiative underway that we're calling Partnering for the Future. As the web is changing business models and software delivery we've been thinking about when (not whether) this will spawn a new type of Microsoft partner - or several types. People are starting to build applications more and more that run on the web (or use the web as their runtime in developer speak) and we're launching services ourselves here like Office Live (coming soon to the UK). In addition, we're thinking about companies who may sell software as an ingredient to their own service such as banks or building societies. I met a great partner in Boston (Tom Keane from Nitrosell) and we discussed this type of stuff. I'm sure there are many other partners both existing and new out there who are ready to play or are already playing in this arena. We're going to be looking to support them in development this year.
It's early days but we're going to have someone in my group dedicated to this area and working closely with our Developer Evangelism group and we'll keep you posted on how things develop as I expect a few community meetings to kick of the discussion. If you're interested in this type of stuff, let me know and I'll ensure you're contacted.
ps - if this doesn't make any sense, perhaps Mr Ozzie, our CTO explained it better at the recent financial analysts meeting? You decide... :)