Shhh! Microsoft sneaks into IT services contract

Marilyn Cohodas, Editor in Chief

Would you hire Microsoft to run your IT department? The maker of Energizer batteries and Schick razors has done just that, according to an exclusive story: Microsoft's next act -- service provider? --

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reported last week by's Margie Semilof. Among the laundry list of functions Microsoft will take over:
  • Desktop management for 6,000 end users
  • Server management
  • Antivirus, antispyware and firewall technologies
  • Software distribution
  • Help desk and 24/7 end-user support
  • E-mail services
  • Electronic document storage

Microsoft frequently touts its own global IT operation as a giant test bed. It remains to be seen whether the company can successfully port the experience of supporting 75,000 tech-savvy software company employees to a non-technology, manufacturing environment. Nor do we know how a foray into the service provider business will play among Microsoft's many strategic partners ranging from small system integrators all the way to stalwarts like IBM Global Services, Hewlett-Packard Co. and EDS Corp.

For now, executives in Redmond are downplaying the long-term significance of the Energizer outsourcing deal. They say it's simply a "project" initiated at the behest of a single customer.

Still, I wonder. From the vantage point of enterprise IT, would you want Microsoft to manage your technology infrastructure? Or, would you rather the company keep its focus on developing better, more secure products, and shipping them out on time? Take our poll, then drop us a line and let us know.

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