WPC Preview: New Beginnings

Los AngelesLOS ANGELES – I’ve always kind of associated Microsoft’s Worldwide Partner Conference with new beginnings.

I’d like to say that’s because it serves as the more-or-less formal kickoff of a new fiscal year for Microsoft, and the software titan has one of if not the biggest channel communities in this country. And truthfully, that’s part of it. But the main reason I’ve made that connection in my mind is because, coming as it does on the second full week of July every year, Microsoft WPC always coincides with my birthday.

Over the last decade, I’ve spent more July 11ths listening and talking to Microsoft and its partners and hustling to get stories out for those who weren’t able to make the trip than I have with my friends and family. Truth be told, I like it.

The long hours, big news stories to try to create context around, the scrambling to write just one more story before crashing and getting up and doing it all again tomorrow. These are the kind of things that get a reporter excited. And the Microsoft Canada team is great to work with, very giving with their time and comments and puts on a great show a few thousand of their closest friends.

And then, of course, there were the legendary Canadian Parties, generally speaking the envy of the worldwide community that attends the event.

Over the last year, my world has changed very significantly. I’m not reporting on this WPC in the same place I reported on last year’s. But that’s really just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to changes I’ve experienced and am going to experience. But that’s another column for another day. Maybe.

And of course, your world has probably changed pretty significantly since Steve Ballmer took to the stage and basically told partners to get on board with the cloud or get out. Truth be told, I’m not entirely sure what direction this year’s WPC is going to go. I’m pretty sure we’ll hear a lot more partner details around the recently launched Office 365. We’ll probably hear more about Windows InTune and its ramifications for partners. Windows 8 may or may not be coming next year, depending on whom you ask at Microsoft and when you ask them… but if there’s any chance of it launching in the next year, expect Microsoft to start beating the drum more loudly.

I’m looking forward to chatting with Microsoft channel chief Jon Roskill again. Last year, Roskill – all of a week into his role as the chief steward of one of the biggest channel communities in the world – was very giving in his time with myself and my peers in the Canadian channel press contingent, but the tone of the conversation was very much a “getting to know you” kind of discussion.

A year later, Roskill is well-established in his role, and through shrewd use of social media and engagement with the channel community over the course of the year, has accomplished the unenviable goal of succeeding well-liked longtime Microsoft channel chief Allison Watson with his own distinctive leadership style.

I look forward to chatting with Roskill about his experiences in his first year heading up Microsoft’s channel community, his goals for year two, and how he sees the Microsoft Partner Network continuing to evolve over the coming year.

And I look forward to connecting with many of you – finding out how the last year has treated you, what adventures you’ve had and how you’re feeling about your relationship with Microsoft heading into their new year.

For those of you who were unable to make this year’s conference – we’ll do our best to keep you dialed in on what’s coming down from Redmond at this year’s WPC, so keep your eye on ChannelBuzz.ca all week for liveblogs, videos and all sorts of content.

For those of you making your way to Los Angeles – safe journeys, and I hope to catch up with you there. If’ you happen to catch me, please say hi and maybe let’s drink a toast.

To WPC, and to new beginnings.