Even before the events of  early this week, we were fielding questions about a homogenous hardware / software approach.  Apple being the obvious example – clearly there is a segment that is willing to pay significantly more for a closed hardware / software experience.  The argument is an interesting one and is something that is intriguing at first blush.  Having a singular or very limited set of hardware to test against could decrease a variety of expenses such as development and testing. You could even argue acceleration in go to market because there wouldn’t be a handoff between the software side and the hardware side.  While you’re basking in additional benefits, let me paint you another picture.

Moments after Jimmy Stewart’s character George Bailey cried “I wish I was never born” he found himself in a strange, and far less wonderful life.  Pottersville is mostly a slum with a single land owner in town, the residents are disgruntled, all the houses look the same and every dollar earned or spent flows to and from a single entity.  Sure, queue up the haters, a Microsoft guy telling everyone what the world looks like with complete vertical consolidation will strike some as odd.

Here’s the realityThere are over 400,000 Microsoft partners worldwide. This diverse ecosystem includes hardware providers of all shapes and sizes, system integrators, ISVs, value-added resellers, hosters, distributors and many, many others. One of my favorite moments over the course of the year is spending time with our partner advisory council where folks from HP to SolidSoft get together and tell us how we can better meet customer needs. Here’s what I know for sure – the innovation we collectively deliver to customers is a reflection of the collective IQ and RD spend across those hundreds of thousands of partners. The strength of our offering and our ability to meet customer needs is predicated on the relationships that we have and the competition that is created from innovation.

What’s my view on the events of the week?  No thanks, Mr. Potter.   Beyond vertical singularity, I’ll save my thoughts on the future of Java for another day.