Microsoft to partners: What should Ballmer say at WPC?

Steve Ballmer at WPC 2010

Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer addressing partners at last year's WPC

Attention Microsoft partners: The software titan would like to know what you’d like to hear CEO Steve Ballmer bellow speak about at its Worldwide Partner Conference event next month in Los Angeles.

In a blog post this week, the company tells partners that “WPC 2011 is your event, and we would love to get your comments on topics you want to hear from Steve Ballmer, Microsoft’s CEO.”

It offers its own suggestions for what Steve might like to talk on, with options including “how Microsoft is leading the industry transformation to the cloud,” and “how Microsoft is committed to partner success.”

Good ideas from Microsoft’s viewpoint. But as per usual, a lot of partners have their own ideas of what they’d like to hear from the bombastic CEO.

Among the 50 or so comments on the blog post of Thursday evening, here are some themes.

Last year was the year of the cloud, complete with Steve Ballmer coming out to a World Cup-inspired chant of “O Cloud!”. Think the usual “Olé!” song, but cloudier. Had to be seen to be believed, really. And a year later, cloud remains a hot topic among channel partners. Since it began offering BPOS and other online services, Microsoft has faced partners grumpy at Microsoft’s insistence of handling cloud billing itself, among other channel issues. And the comments from Microsoft partners show the issue continues to be contentious.

The first partners to respond out of the gates writes: “How Microsoft are going to enable their Partners to sell the Microsoft Cloud packages in a Resale model rather than an Introducer model. This will enable them to bundle them with other Cloud offerings (whether Microsoft or Third party) so they can offer a true end-to-end solution to their clients.”

Another party writes: “Please Steve, clarify how Microsoft and other vendors continual pounding of partners to move into the cloud is good for the IT world as a whole. The cloud may be good, in some cases even brilliant, but partners are being smothered in cloud and some are turning against the idea purely by the constant barrage of cloud marketing. WPC, Worldwide Partners in the Cloud. (forget everyone else). I’m proud to partner with Microsoft, tell me how my future lies in the OEM world.”

And another gets to the heart of one of the biggest cloud issues, requesting that Ballmer, “talk about trust. The Cloud is based on trust: I give you some important things to hold onto and trust that they wont be deleted or shared. Do I trust Google? negative. Facebook? they rank just above North Korea. Why should I trust you? give me a reason or admit there are none, and then tell me why I should keep things local, and how you’ll help me keep them secure. The best way for 2 people to keep a secret is for one of them to be dead. I’d rather not have to resort to such measures… Maybe you can help.”

All good ideas. Some, though, aren’t taking this exercise entirely seriously, or are just using the anonymity of the Internet to ask questions they probably wouldn’t present Ballmer to his face.

“I’m concerned about you screwing up Skype,” writes one.

Another makes it pretty personal, writing, “When will you be stepping down? We need a new CEO.”

Still, for every class clown, there are some intriguing questions asked. Consider the following hypothetical posed by one partner: “Imagine a world in which Windows and Office products no longer existed tomorrow. Where would you focus the company’s resources in order to capitalize on new opportunities?”

Where indeed?

If you’ve got a thought or two you’d like to hear Ballmer expound upon (loudly, we’re sure,) you can leave a comment on the Microsoft Digital WPC blog post. You have until June 22 to sound off, whether you’d like to hear Ballmer expound upon Microsoft’s role in what many are calling the “post-PC world,” or whether you’d prefer to go for something a bit more off the wall. (Boxers or briefs, anyone?)

And of course, will be on the scene next month for Microsoft’s summertime partner mega-event in the City of Angels. Stick with us and we’ll let you know what Ballmer does choose to speak on, and all the other details from the event.

Hope to see many of you there!

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