Scenes From Day One Of Microsoft's Worldwide Partner Conference

Not So Far From The Chattering Crowd

Some 9,500 Microsoft channel partners and 3,000 Microsoft employees easily fit into the sprawling Washington Convention Center in Washington, D.C., for the vendor’s 2010 Worldwide Partner Conference. The opening reception was held Sunday evening and the conference runs through Thursday.

Allison Watson Departs

Channel chief Allison Watson, who is taking on a new job within Microsoft, took the stage in the Verizon Center during the Monday keynotes to bid farewell to the company’s channel partners. Watson, Microsoft’s worldwide channel chief for eight years, has taken the post of corporate vice president of the Business and Marketing Organization in the U.S. while Jon Roskill, who currently holds that job, is taking over the channel chief role.

Watson drew sustained applause when she said that being channel chief is likely the only opportunity she’ll get ’to have a job that is this cool.’

Music To Partners' Ears

The Monday keynote session was opened by the acapella group ’Mosaic.’

Cloud Commitment

Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer delivered a keynote that detailed the company’s aggressive plans to compete in the cloud computing market. And his message was that channel partners had better make their own cloud computing plans or fall behind.

’This is a scary move,’ Ballmer said, acknowledging that cloud computing represents a marked change in business models for both Microsoft and solution providers. But he said: ’If you don’t want to move to the cloud, then we’re not your company.’

There's Money In Them Thar Clouds!

Also making a pitch for cloud computing was Stephen Elop, president of the Microsoft Business Division. ’It is no longer a question of if, but when our customers should move to the cloud,’ Elop said. ’Increasingly our customers are purchasing suites of online services. Customers are speaking with their wallets.’

Elop sought to dispel the idea that channel partners can’t make money selling cloud services. He cited a study the company made of 40 sales contracts for Microsoft Online Services through channel partners and concluded that each generated $167 per seat in revenue for solution providers. The revenue came from managed services, business consulting and customization work, migration and integration services, and provider-of-record fees.

Clouds Overhead

The WPC keynote speeches are being held in the cavernous Verizon Center a few blocks from the Washington Convention Center. Here Stephen Elop gives his keynote speech, which is also shown on the giant screen overhead.

Opportunity Calling

On the expo show floor Microsoft’s demonstration of Windows Phone 7, which is scheduled for general availability later this year, seemed to be attracting a lot of interest from channel partners.

That’s good news for Microsoft given that earlier generations of the company’s mobile operating system have not done well in the marketplace. During his keynote speech, CEO Ballmer said a number of mobile device makers have committed to using Windows Mobile 7 including HTC, Dell, Samsung, LG, Toshiba and Sony Ericsson.