Scenes From Day Three Of Microsoft's Worldwide Partner Conference

What's Goin' On

Microsoft kicked off Day Three of its Worldwide Partner Conference in Washington D.C. with a performance from Playing for Change, the band made up of musicians from around the world that helps raise money to build music schools for children around the globe.

The group opened the show with, appropriately enough, a performance of Concrete Blonde’s ’What’s Up?’

Cloud And Windows-Upgrade Opportunities

Microsoft Chief Operating Officer Kevin Turner delivered a keynote address that was part pep talk, part marketing guide for the company’s channel partners.

Turner said cloud computing offers ’an unbelievable opportunity for new revenue streams.’ The executive said Microsoft has invested in a growing line of cloud-computing products, including the Business Productivity Online Suite, Office Web Apps, Windows Azure and Dynamics CRM Online, adding, ’I really encourage you to bet big with us on the cloud.’

The COO also described the Windows 7 upgrade opportunities for partners, noting that 85 percent of Windows users are still running old XP and Vista releases. Fifty-two percent of Internet Explorer users are on IE6 and IE7, he said, and 63 percent are using Office 2003 or older.

Firing Up The Troops

Turner exhorted partners to sell hard against Microsoft’s competitors. ’At Microsoft, big aspirations have always fueled our company,’ he said, making it clear he expects partners to think equally big.

Turner offered insights on Microsoft’s chief competitors, including Apple, Oracle and Google. The COO sees opportunities for resellers among Oracle’s customers, for example, as Oracle begins to migrate them away from its current applications to its next-generation Fusion products.

Turner wasn’t above taking a few shots at Microsoft’s market rivals. He got big laughs when he said of Google: ’We don’t need a mission statement not to do evil to remind us not to do evil.’ Referring to widely reported problems the new Apple iPhone 4, Turner said that product just might become ’Apple’s Vista.’ Ouch.

Making Productive Use Of Your Time

I’m wondering how many hard-core WPC attendees actually showed up on Monday at 12:30 a.m. to check out the Expo show floor.

Hail To The Chief

Former U.S. president Bill Clinton was the guest keynote speaker Wednesday. Since leaving office in 2001, Clinton has championed a number of causes around the world, including working to help bring relief to earthquake victims in Haiti and provide medical help to AIDS sufferers in developing countries.

Some of his health-care work has been done in conjunction with the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, started by Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates.

The former president said most of the problems facing the world today stem from what he called ’three distinct challenges: A highly unstable world, a highly unequal world, and an unsustainable world.’

In contrast to the quality of life in the U.S., Clinton said two-thirds of the human race lives on less than $2 a day and for them ’life is a guerilla war’ where it’s a major effort ’just to keep your children from dying before they’re five.’

A Call To Action

Clinton said it’s the mission of everyone as citizens of their communities, their countries and of the globe to address the challenges facing the world today.

Thanks to IT and the Internet, Clinton said we live in ’the most self-help society [and] most interdependent age in history.’ He urged WPC attendees to use their expertise and IT networks -- that interdependence -- to find solutions to those problems.

What Colors Are These Aninmals Supposed To Be?

This elephant (more like a wooly mammoth here) and donkey in the Washington Convention Center were part of a ’Party Animals’ art exhibition project in 2002 sponsored by the Washington D.C. Commission on the Arts and Humanities. Made from fiberglass, the 100 elephants and 100 donkeys were customized by regional artists and auctioned off to benefit grants programs for the arts and art education.

Sign Of Affection

This banner hanging in the lobby of the Washington Convention Center showed Microsoft’s appreciation for its channel partners -- a sentiment Microsoft executives expressed throughout WPC. ’Partners are Microsoft’s most important asset,’ said Jon Roskill, the new corporate vice president of Microsoft’s worldwide partner group, during his keynote.