By Pat Ouellette, Associate Editor
LOS ANGELES — It’s been an eventful 24 hours since I hit the tarmac at LAX Sunday to attend my first Microsoft Worldwide Partner Conference (WPC). From Dodger Stadium and its army of police officers to Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer explaining why his “all in” cloud message at WPC 2010 scared him, there has been a lot of action. And more questions than answers. Here are 10 things that struck me as I made my way through the LA Convention Center and the Staples Center.
1: Do partners have faith in Jon Roskill?
Aside from telling partners to hiss at the mention of VMware, I wonder how convincing Roskill was in his keynote. Unlike, Ballmer, Roskill didn’t seem excited up on the stage. But then again, who could replicate that? Not mentioned was that coming into the show many partners are unhappy with the lack of information about their role (or lack thereof) in Windows Azure and Office 365. Some of that will be addressed Tuesday, or so we are promised. But if I’m a partner struggling to make ends meet and hear about how, for very dollar Microsoft makes, I can make $8.70 or that 58% of partners are “in the cloud,” I have to wonder.
2: Steve Ballmer’s partner love.
Although, partners are having moderate success with Windows 7 migrations, Tami Reller, corporate vice president of Windows and Windows Live, said partners must move customers through Windows 7 to get to Windows 8. This may be no easy feat. Windows 8’s touch screen and application capabilities are nice – downright iPhone like — but are they enough to get customers to migrate again in a year or two of taking on Window 7?
Ballmer said that along with Skype, Microsoft Lync is the “Kinect of the enterprise.” How exactly does this fit into Microsoft’s strategy and where are the non-consumer opportunities? And how does this not conflict with Microsoft Lync?
6: Why so much time on XBOX Kinect?
A Kinect SDK is available for business apps and demo’d its new voice command wireless capabilities (think Apple TV without a remote). But why so much time? Kinect is cool and could clearly find business application but It seemed that partners had a lot more questions about profitability and certification requirements for Microsoft Partner Network competencies.
7: Missing Smashmouth.
Because of my flight out of LA on Wednesday, I’m inadvertently skipping out on seeing Smash Mouth. Needless to say, fifth-grade me would be pissed.
8: Mixed messages on Windows Phone
As for phone OSes, “we’ve gone from very small to very small, but it’s been one hell of a year,” Ballmer said on Windows Phone share. His graphic read “9/10 people love their Windows Phone” and that Gartner predicted Windows Phone will be No. 2 in the market come 2015. Yeah, that report raised a LOT of eyebrows given the huge lead that Android and iPhone enjoy and the perception that Microsoft bought its way into a big Nokia deal. The fact that developers and VARs still aren’t sure about the phone strategy doesn’t help. As Colin Steele wrote, partners are weary of Microsoft’s mobile strategy.
9: Steve Ballmer’s scary cloud message