Liveblog: Microsoft Worldwide Partner Conference Day One

Steve Ballmer at WPC 2010

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

LOS ANGELES — Microsoft’s Worldwide Partner Conference gets underway Monday morning with keynotes expected from CEO Steve Ballmer, worldwide channel chief Jon Roskill and other top executives.

It’s been a year since last year’s “all in” WPC, when Microsoft proclaimed itself a cloud company. What does the company have in store for channel partners a year later, with the event coming as it does just days after the launch of Office 365, and as details of plans for Windows 8 start to emerge?

Join us for live coverage of the WPC kickoff right here at! The liveblog should go live momentarily, as people are settling into their seats at the Staples Center in downtown Los Angeles and getting ready to the start of Microsoft’s summer partner mega-event.

  Microsoft WPC Day One (07/11/2011) 

Good morning from Los Angeles! The Staples Center is rapidly filling in and there’s an opening dance routine on the main stage…. it looks like WPC will be getting underway any moment now.

Monday July 11, 2011 9:17

Out to kick things off, Microsoft channel chief Jon Roskill

Monday July 11, 2011 9:18

“Sometimes, changing the world is what we’re about,” Roskill says. Apparently, there are a record number of partners from Japan in the house here in LA.

Monday July 11, 2011 9:18

Roskill showing a video of highlights of last year’s Day of Giving Carnival — games, contests and other fun benefiting the Boys and Girls Clubs of Los Angeles and the Magic Johnson Foundation.

Monday July 11, 2011 9:19

Awesome! Apparently, the Danish attendees brought a bunch of Lego with them for the Day of Giving Carnival. Nice touch.

Monday July 11, 2011 9:20

“This conference is all about how we’re going to win together,” Roskill tells the 12,000 partners from 120 countries in attendance.

Monday July 11, 2011 9:21

“Virtually every partner type is here and represented,” Roskill says, from distributors to learning partners to ISVs.

Monday July 11, 2011 9:21

A record number of partners representing Dynamics technologies, Roskill says, before talking about the Dynamics Referral Program (5 per cent of deals for partners who refer business.)

Monday July 11, 2011 9:22

Wow. $10.1 billion in partner-to-partner activity in the Microsoft channel last year, Roskill says. “Get out and take advantage of that opportunity,” he urges partners.

Monday July 11, 2011 9:23

“You are the elite of the largest technology ecosystem in the world,” Roskill says.

Monday July 11, 2011 9:23

Themes for the event – winning together and changing the world.

Monday July 11, 2011 9:24

“For every dollar Microsoft makes, partners make $8.75,” Roskill says, making it a $580 billion industry in the Microsoft channel. “If we were a country, we’d be number 19, between Indonesia and Swizerland” in terms of world GDP.

Monday July 11, 2011 9:24

Roskill jokingly tries to get partners to boo VMware’s name. But there are a lot of Microsoft partners who are also big on VMware.

Monday July 11, 2011 9:26

Roskill says partner input last year drove the WPC agenda this year. Ballmer to talk about “the future we’ve talked about being here right now.” Tomorrow, talking about what’s coming next with private and public cloud, on-prem and mobility. Day three about partnering and competing, with Roskill back on stage, plus Kevin Turner and guest speaker Sir Richard Branson.

Monday July 11, 2011 9:31

In other words, pretty much the same keynote schedule as the last few years in terms of focus.

Monday July 11, 2011 9:32

Thursday night closeout show to feature Los Lobos and Smash Mouth.

Monday July 11, 2011 9:33

Microsoft has always led in transitions, Roskill says, although has been challenged at each phase. Microsoft has been successful “through following a unique and consistent strategy” of creating platforms that enable profitable partner business models, delivering 95 per cent or revenues or more through VARs.

Monday July 11, 2011 9:36

Today, 58 per cent of Microsoft partners working with the cloud, but more opportunistically than as a core business. “We’re going to give you more reasons over the course of the next three days to continue the transition to the cloud,” Roskill says. Cloud content “baked in” to every track here at WPC, he says.

Monday July 11, 2011 9:37

Roskill: Today, 58% per cent of MSFT partners working in the cloud, but more opportunistically than strategically. #wpc11 [via Twitter]

Monday July 11, 2011 9:38 channelbuzzca

And with that, Roskill hands it over to CEO Steve Ballmer.

Monday July 11, 2011 9:39

“I am beyond excited to have a change to be here today at WPC,” Ballmer starts, says that coming to this show is “about the most exciting thing I get to do in any 12-month period of time.”

Monday July 11, 2011 9:39

After a relatively low-energy (for Ballmer) presentation last year, Steve seems to be back in full-energy full-on-shouting mode this year.

Monday July 11, 2011 9:40

“Customers aren’t quite as all in as you are,” Ballmer says, and partners are pushing both Microsoft and customers.

Monday July 11, 2011 9:41

If partners do 95 per cent of Microsoft’s business, “I can’t find the other 5 per cent. So I’m just going to say we’re 100 per cent through partners. So thanks for pushing us and thanks for your work.”

Monday July 11, 2011 9:41

Last year’s WPC was “scary,” Ballmer says.

Monday July 11, 2011 9:42

Says Microsoft was talking about cloud four years ago — but until last year, the company really only talked about Software + Services as opposed to SaaS or full-on cloud.

Monday July 11, 2011 9:42

Over the last few years, partners have told him that they’re not sure if they like the cloud. Last year was scary because “I said we were 100 per cent in on the cloud, and we need partners who want to come with us.”

Monday July 11, 2011 9:43

“To see 15,000 people here coming with us, pushing to the cloud, pushing Windows Azure, pushing Office 365, that’s exciting after being nervous last year that some of you wouldn’t be all-in on the cloud.”

Monday July 11, 2011 9:43

Today, 40,000-plus partners who identify themselves as cloud partners, including new partners to the Microsoft partner community.

Monday July 11, 2011 9:44

“I’m very appreciative of the fact that you’re making the transition with us,” Ballmer says. 

Monday July 11, 2011 9:45

Ballmer’s presentation graphic detailing the year at Microsoft looks a lot like the live tiles in Windows Phone 7. Nice touch.

Monday July 11, 2011 9:49

Ballmer offering his “report card, or state of the state” on how Microsoft is doing on building business with partners.

Monday July 11, 2011 9:50

Talking about creating software for three screen – small, medium and biz, or phone, tablet or TV and PC.

Monday July 11, 2011 9:51

“Across the board, the last 12 months were really quite phenomenal for us,” Ballmer says. “Consistently through the first three quarters, we’ve delivered absolutely outstanding double-digit growth rates in the Office product line and the Server product lines, and that testament to the work our partners do across the globe.”

Monday July 11, 2011 9:52

“Microsoft is absolutely unique in the breadth and level of integration across the product line. We’re the only company out there that’s investing both on-premise and in the cloud,” he says. Investments on one side, he says, helps you build the other side as well.

Monday July 11, 2011 9:53

Talking about how Microsoft partners are using Kinect sensors in business applications.

Monday July 11, 2011 9:53

Dynamics – “We’ve switched out our competitors’ customers and brought them into our fold.”

Monday July 11, 2011 9:53

Office 365: Ballmer says “the other guys have yet to show up.” Interesting comment, given the success of Google Docs.

Monday July 11, 2011 9:54

Phones – “We’ve gone from very small to very small, but it’s going to be a heck of a year” he posits.

Monday July 11, 2011 9:55

“It’s been a year of great momentum and progress, but not without a lot of competition. These products are the foundation for a lot of business growth.”

Monday July 11, 2011 9:55

“If you told me 10 years ago that we’d still be growing in double digits with Office 10 years later, I’d have been dubious. But yet … that’s exactly where we are.”

Monday July 11, 2011 9:56

Ballmer says Bing is the “Microsoft product partners spent the least amount of time with,” but that will change — talking about opening it up into a platform that partners can build against. But it’s an important part of the company’d device strategy and cloud strategy. So he’s going to spend a bit of time on it anyways.

Monday July 11, 2011 9:57

“The opportunity to innovate in this space depends on traffic,” he says, so having growth is crucial to being able to integrate.

Monday July 11, 2011 9:58

“The Internet is changing more today than any time in history, moving form an Internet about HTML documents to an Internet that’s about the social graph, location, accessing from mobile devices.” Those changes give an opportunity to chip away at Google’s search dominance, Ballmer says.

Monday July 11, 2011 9:59

And now we’re onto a Bing Demo. Showing integration with Facebook and how search — sorry, decision-making — can be pulled into Bing search results.

Monday July 11, 2011 10:01

The Bing differentiator seems to be integrating with partner sites to make it easier to do things from search results — search for Dodger tickets, get a one-click link to buy tickets from Microsoft’s Bing tickets partner.

Monday July 11, 2011 10:05

“Make decisions and take actions” is how Microsoft phrases it.

Monday July 11, 2011 10:07

“If search and Bing is the first cloud application, the most important for the people in this room are around the server platform, the productivity and collaboration applications,” Ballmer says — onto discussion private cloud (Windows Server with Hyper-V) and public cloud (Azure).

Monday July 11, 2011 10:08

In the last 12 months, Microsoft has “made major advances” in Windows Azure functionality and capability. “We have a much more coherent and complete public cloud and private cloud story” with System Center, with Visual Studio, with Active Directory.

Monday July 11, 2011 10:09

That includes mobility from private cloud to public cloud, extending on-prem with new functionality on Azure. “In this world, things will move to the public cloud, but LOB applications will move at a much more measured pace than other parts of the infrastructure.”

Monday July 11, 2011 10:10

Ballmer says that its public cloud competitors have applications that have merit “in some limited type of way,” but that Microsoft partners want the flexibility of on-prem, private or public cloud.

Monday July 11, 2011 10:10

Talking about Windows Azure reference customers — Boeing, which built an app to market the 737 with the help of Microsoft partner Wirestone with thousands of images to show off the plane; American Airlines, which has built an updated application for Windows Phone, offering realtime information via live tile on gate and baggage information, etc.

Monday July 11, 2011 10:12

Dynamics – this is the 10-year anniversary of Microsoft in the biz application space. “Over that 10 years, 20 per cent CAGR.” Ballmer offers his thanks to Dynamics partners, particularly those who’ve been with the company the whole way.

Monday July 11, 2011 10:13

“Whether it’s ERP or CRM, we see a unique POV coming from Microsoft in terms of flexibility of development and ease of use of the program.”

Monday July 11, 2011 10:14

“When you’re over a billion in revenues, and into the hundreds of millions in public, there’s no doubt that you’re all in, and we want partners who push with us,” Ballmer says of the Dynamics opportunity.

Monday July 11, 2011 10:15

Two out of three of CRM design wins this year have been in the cloud, Ballmer says.

Monday July 11, 2011 10:15

“When does ERP move to the cloud” – starting with Dynamics NAV early next year, Microsoft will move ERP apps to the cloud.

Monday July 11, 2011 10:17

Onto Office — 100 million licenses of Office 2010 so far, plus the launch of Office 365 recently.

Monday July 11, 2011 10:17

50k businesses around the world trialing Office 365 – about one business every 25 seconds, from very small to very big.

Monday July 11, 2011 10:18

Ballmer slips and refers to documents as papers. “See how old I am?” he quips. “I still refer to paper as if it matters.”

Monday July 11, 2011 10:19

“Any place a partner engages with Office 365, we win,” he says of competing with Google Docs. Asks for partners to keep the energy up in signing up customers.

Monday July 11, 2011 10:20

“Skype… subject to regulatory approval, I have to be careful here, but I’m very excited about acquiring Skype.”

Monday July 11, 2011 10:20

Skype is consistent with one of Microsoft’s core businesses, collaboration. Does this mean they’re less serious about Lync? No. “Use Skype to allow the enterprise to have control of collaboration through Lync, but use Skype to connect to consumsers, partners around the world.”

Monday July 11, 2011 10:21

“Lync is the product that is growing most quickly in the enterprise” among Microsoft’s portfolio, Ballmer says. That’s been SharePoint’s position for quite some time… that’s a significant change.

Monday July 11, 2011 10:22

“With Skype under the umbrella, we’re going to be able to do even more fantastic things together.”

Monday July 11, 2011 10:22

Moving on to Xbox. Talking about using Kinect as a business tool, but “the Xbox team is still motivated by entertainment.”

Monday July 11, 2011 10:23

Offering a preview of the Xbox 2012 user interface, which is very voice-centric. Coming to a gaming console near you in time for Christmas this year.

Monday July 11, 2011 10:25

Oh yes… and it has live tiles that look like Win Phone 7, to nobody’s surprise.

Monday July 11, 2011 10:26

Bing voice search. “You say it, and Xbox finds it,” Ballmer says. Search through Xbox Live, Hulu, Netflix and other content providers.

Monday July 11, 2011 10:27

I’m surprised that Ballmer is doing a very poor job of making the Xbox pitch relevant to the Microsoft business partner community… aside from those who use the device as consumers of the technology… thus far.

Monday July 11, 2011 10:29

Getting back on topic a bit, talking about Windows Phone 7. 9 out of 10 purchasers would recommend it. “It’s a very active, competitive market and we’ve got a lot of work to do to break through.” Says app ramp-up for Windows Phone faster than Android or iOS, and talking about the Nokia partnership.

Monday July 11, 2011 10:31

“We know we’ve got a lot to do, but like the cloud, like NT, we’re all in when it comes to mobile devices, whether if phones, or slates or console devices. We’re pushing extremely far and extremely fast.”

Monday July 11, 2011 10:32

And onto Windows 8. “A true re-imagining of Windows PCs and the dawning of Windows slates.”

Monday July 11, 2011 10:33

Out to discuss Windows, Tammi Reller, corporate vice president for Windows and Windows Live.

Monday July 11, 2011 10:33

But first, the opportunity with Windows 7 today. Last year at WPC, talked about the fast start for Windows 7. “Our partners are at the center of that success,” Reller says.

Monday July 11, 2011 10:35

Companies like GM are “inches away” from 100 per cent deployment of Windows 7, Reller says.

Monday July 11, 2011 10:35

End users are happy with Windows 7 because they’re getting a new machine and getting off a “decade-old” platform with “a dated browser.” Clearly, as usual, Microsoft’s biggest competitive threat is older versions of its products sticking around. In this case, the crosshairs are clearly on XP’s forehead.

Monday July 11, 2011 10:38

Reller detailing power savings customers are seeing from moving to Windows 7 — some impressive numbers.

Monday July 11, 2011 10:41

Half of Microsoft business partners are working with businesses on Windows 7 deployments, Reller says.

Monday July 11, 2011 10:42

“So many great examples” or partners working with Windows 7, “but we’re really just getting started.” Still two thirds of business PC workers on Windows XP. “It’s urgent and important work for us to go after,” Reller tells partners.

Monday July 11, 2011 10:43

Four motivators for Windows 7 migrators, per Reller:

  1. Value — Efficiency, productivity
  2. XP is end of life “one thousand days” from now. Reller expects 
  3. The cloud. “Windows 7 is the best foundation for the cloud and for consuming cloud features. 
  4. The path to the future and Windows 8.

Monday July 11, 2011 10:45

Beta announced of version 2 of Windows InTune, including software deployment and more management options. Will follow up with more information later.

Monday July 11, 2011 10:45

Meanwhile, Reller’s talking up Windows 8. So far, its communications have been focused on getting partners and hardware providers ready.

Monday July 11, 2011 10:46

Next update: September in Anaheim. Translation: No major Windows 8 news here at WPC. Bummer.

Monday July 11, 2011 10:46

“For 20 years, Windows has defined the computing landscape for well over a billion customers around the world,” Reller says.

Monday July 11, 2011 10:47

“Developers and partners want to build apps that take advantages in the changes in the ways people interact with devices,” she says, which is part of the design criteria for Windows 8.

Monday July 11, 2011 10:48

Talking about Windows running on system-on-a-chip technologies, namely ARM, as well as Windows 8 rnning SoC x86 devices.

Monday July 11, 2011 10:49

“We’re still fairly early in the cycle,” Reller says. But the demonstrations offered so far show off “the  richness of Windows running on the ARM platform.”

Monday July 11, 2011 10:49

“Windows 8 is the rei-magination of Windows from the chip to the user interface,” including designing it “from the ground up” to work with touch-only tablet devices.

Monday July 11, 2011 10:50

Many partners want to know more about the new Windows 8 interface, Reller says. No surprise there… it’s a pretty significant change, looking more like Windows Phone 7 than today’s Windows desktop.

Monday July 11, 2011 10:51

Apps are “designed for touch but work great with a mouse and keyboard too,” Reller says.

Monday July 11, 2011 10:52

RT @asorensen: From the grapevine at #WPC11: there is consideration again for a small business competency. Great news for SMB partners … [via Twitter]

Monday July 11, 2011 10:55 channelbuzzca

“We see a future with a heterogenous environment of Windows 8 devices and apps” working alongside Windows 7, Reller says. Hardware and software investments will be preserved. But meanwhile — keep pushing on Windows 7. “The best way to get to the future is to embrace the present.”

Monday July 11, 2011 10:57

“Together we can add measurable value to customers by getting them on Windows 7, Office 2010 and the latest server infrastructure,” Reller says in wrapping up her presentation.

Monday July 11, 2011 10:58

And with that, Steve Ballmer is back on stage.

Monday July 11, 2011 10:59

“Windows is the backbone of Microsoft,” Ballmer says. “Windows, Windows, Windows, Windows. It’s where we’re grounded.”

Monday July 11, 2011 10:59

“Our industry is more dynamic, things are changing more than ever before. That’s true for Microsoft, and that’s true for everybody in this room today.”

Monday July 11, 2011 11:00

Despite general economic malaise, IT industry is growing and creating new opportunities. “We had a heck of a year together,” Ballmer says.

Monday July 11, 2011 11:01

Seems like Ballmer is putting a bow on his presentation.

Monday July 11, 2011 11:01

He’s looking for partner agreement on three things.

  1. We had a great year last year.
  2. There’s opportunity for phenomenal growth.
  3. “At the end of the day, we’re 100 per cent in with you.” 

Monday July 11, 2011 11:02

“As go you, so goes Microsoft,” Ballmer tells partners.

Monday July 11, 2011 11:02

Ballmer thanks partners, and wraps things up, bringing Jon Roskill back out.

Monday July 11, 2011 11:03

Roskill and Ballmer are doing their Worldwide Partner Award winners parade. Nice touch this year — little videos with each partner introducing their wins as they get their handshake and photo with Ballmer and Roskill.

Monday July 11, 2011 11:05

And on that note, Roskill wraps things up, and we’ll call this liveblog a wrap for now. Much more coverage from WPC later today on — thanks for joining us for the liveblog!

Monday July 11, 2011 11:10