After watching Microsoft come late to the table for so many years, it's still kind of surprising (refreshing?) to see it taking the lead. (Although, some would argue that Microsoft is doing a lot of following--of Apple--when it comes to Windows 10.)
Fortune's Heather Clancy recently noted that Microsoft's "buy only what you use" model is a big deal--one that other companies are sure to follow. "From my standpoint, Microsoft’s flexibility when it comes to how businesses or individuals want to pay for software could be very important," wrote Clancy. "Over the past year, it has completely overhauled its volume licensing policies, ... but the biggest change is this: instead of charging companies for software on a per-device basis, it will price subscriptions and licenses based on who actually uses them. It will also emulate Apple’s strategy of free operating system updates with the Windows 10 release."
Clancy cites Technology Business Research's Kelsey Mason as saying that while Microsoft wants to move customers to the cloud, many will use some combination of cloud and on-premise systems. This makes traditional software business, such as Windows and SQL Server, "a critical piece to Microsoft’s strategy in becoming the ‘productivity and platform company for the cloud-first, mobile-first world,’” states Mason.
Indeed, Windows and SQL Server will be the glue that holds together the pieces that comprise organizations' hybrid IT ecosystem (as opposed to the pieces that organizations' IT ecosystems are "comprised of"--right, guy who changed that grammatcial error more than 47,000 times on Wikipedia?).