I’m attending Microsoft WPC 2011


I’m attending Microsoft’s Worldwide Partner Conference (WPC) 2011, which is this year taking place in the City of Angels – Los Angeles, USA.

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Why am I attending? Well there are a number of inter-connected reasons for that which I’m going to try and explain here Smile

The #1 reason is the huge benefit to our business that we’ll realise. I have been to 1 WPC before, which was 2008 in Houston, Texas and it was amazingly useful. Why you ask?

1) Learning new information: WPC is where Microsoft share huge amounts of previously unheard information about pretty much every aspect of their business. 2008 was the year that Online Services were announced so I got the opportunity to hear all about it first hand from key execs and product specialists. I was also able to sign up to the new Online Quickstart partner program right then and there at one of the many (100’s?) of terminals around the conference centre.

Something that made a big difference was not having the general day to day minutiae of business around me. I was able to fully focus my thoughts & energy on Microsoft (even more than usual!) and those 5 days were probably equal to 5 or 6 weeks back in the office!

2) Meeting new people: For me and my company’s relationship with Microsoft, WPC 2008 was key. I was sitting in the UK Lounge when I started chatting to (the awesome) Sarah Guy from Microsoft UK who put me in touch with various ‘Softies in a number of different parts of the business such as marketing, SharePoint, Windows 7 and UC. These new contacts have, over the last 3 years, helped Bechtle:

  • Grow whole new areas of our Microsoft business
  • Win new customers
  • Deliver new internal initiatives
  • Become more profitable.

That is the perfect result.

WPC represents a significant investment from Microsoft’s partners. Not only in terms of money for registration, tickets etc but also in time, focus and energy so having a demonstrable ROI (return on investment) is exactly what a returning delegate needs Smile

My hope this year is that I can gain new contacts in some of the new areas of the business we’re moving into, as well as re-affirming existing relationships. Oddly enough I’m fully expecting to see more people in LA in 5 days than I have at TVP in the last 6 months!

There is also the chance to network with the (literally) 1000’s of other Microsoft partners there from around the globe. Even if just one of those dozens of people you meet and swap cards with turns out to be a key partner for the future, then it has all been worth it.

Every business has things they need and things they can offer, for example:

I’m looking to find partners who can help me with things such as Lync implementation, System Center deployments and CRM configuration.

In return to other partners we offer licensing consultation knowledge and Software Asset Management (SAM) services.

So you see, one meeting could help 2 companies create whole new revenue streams!

3) Commitment: Attending WPC shows Microsoft that we are serious about our relationship with them, and are keen to expand and improve the things we’re already doing together. Conversely, Microsoft show their commitment to us as a partner when they invite us to special sessions and allow us access to NDA information, demos and more.

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Summary

I’ll admit, the fact that it’s in L.A. is not a negative Winking smile but I’d be just as keen to attend if it was in London. I know a lot of people must view it as a “jolly” and yes, there is a lot of fun to be had, but it’s also hard work. You’re away from home, early starts, late finishes, LOADS to take it, lots of walking, 12 hour flights and all sorts – but it’s worth it.

If you’re still on the fence – DO IT. I’d definitely say that you should attend, no matter what kind of Microsoft partner you are – WPC will be beneficial.

If you’re attending, let me know in the comments and see if we can say hello!

Wayne Rooney has a Hair Transplant


Wayne Rooney has got himself some hair back! He’s had a hair transplant and The Mirror (not a paper I tend to read) have got a quite brilliant bit of PhotoShop work!

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My favourite is the Gerry Francis hair Smile

Microsoft E3 Announcements


Microsoft at E3 is always good. There are always awesome announcements and this year, we’re getting them early Smile

So far, Microsoft have revealed:

Voice Search coming to Xbox. I take it this will be for the Marketplaces, making it easier to find films, songs, games etc.

Halo 4 is being developed. I’m excited about this – although Bungie have gone, MS did retain some of them for their new 343 Industries team, dedicated solely to Halo.

Kinect Sports 2 will have:

  • Baseball
  • Golf
  • Tennis
  • Skiing

among others. I’m also hoping for Basketball and football keepie ups Smile

Halo: Combat Evolved will be “remastered for a new generation” which I’m quite happy about. I came into the franchise at #3, so never got to play this one.

E3

Kinect Fun Labs is available immediately (can’t see it on xbox.com yet though) and does a great job of showing off some of the technology…including Finger Tracking! According to WinRumors, it features:

  • Build a buddy – scan in any object and play with it in any way
  • Googly eyes – scan in an object and then be that object
  • Kinect me – make an avatar that looks like you
  • Bobble head – create a bobble head from your avatar
  • Kinect sparklers – lets you use finger tracking to create photos with sparklers

Windows 8 New Features


Microsoft Windows 8 has been officially demoed and it looks pretty great, with it’s Windows Phone 7 inspired tile interface.

There are other new features being discovered by people who have the leaked pre beta builds and one of them is pretty great:

Built in ISO mounting

Windows 8 Center have got a screen shot which shows this:

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This would be a brilliant addition. All my main machines have got Magic Disc & Magic ISO on them simply so I can mount ISO’s as and when needed. However it’s really annoying when you get a new machine and/or you’re working on someone else’s machine…you go to mount an ISO..BOOM – no can do, so you’ve got to go and download/install them. This new addition will save quite a lot of time across the IT Industry I would imagine Smile

 

Built in PDF Reader

This will also be cool, again saving users from one extra download and extra bit of 3rd party software on their machine.

SkyDrive

On paper, SkyDrive is awesome. 25GB of storage that you can access pretty much wherever and use either for personal storage alone or also to share things such as datasheets, documents etc with friends, clients, partners and more.

In practice, it’s quite difficult to use…fiddly, hard to find, not quite as easy to get things into/out of as you thought.

Integrating it straight into Windows 8 will see a massive rise in the use of Microsoft’s online storage, and will make the tablet piece even more compelling as users will have a built in, free, easy to use way of sharing/syncing quite a lot of “stuff” available immediately.

Windows 8: A first Look


Microsoft showed off a first look at their new Operating System yesterday…what have we learned:

1) It’s called Windows 8

2) It looks awesome

3) It’s going to be a huge shot in the arm for Windows tablets

4) It supports my theory…

A first look at Windows 8

The video above shows how it will look on a tablet / touch pc. It looks very smooth, easy to use, fresh, modern and Windows Phone-esque.

I can see this really catching the eye of the masses and getting them rushing to the stores…there are SO many people who want a tablet but don’t like iPads for whatever reason. Some simply dislike Apple while for others it’s more of a practical reason…I count myself as one of the latter.

  • My home machines are Windows
  • My Office machines are Windows
  • My mobile device is Windows
  • All my content is Microsoft based

To me, putting another OS based product (be it iOS, Android etc) in the middle of that just wouldn’t make sense. It would make things more difficult around content migration & access, syncing etc and also wouldn’t be a completely immersive user experience for me.

If this takes off as well as I think it will then it won’t be a boost just for Microsoft, but also all their OEM hardware partners. They’ll suddenly start shipping 100,000’s of new hardware devices not just to consumers…but also to Microsoft’s stronghold – Enterprises.

Organizations with 100’s to 1000’s to 10,000’s + of users will now be able to provide them with tablet devices that can be fully managed with existing tools of the enterprise, thing such as:

  • Active Directory
  • Roaming Profiles
  • Organizational Groups/Units
  • System Center Config Manager
  • BitLocker to Go

This is going to kick start corporate tablet sales in a pretty amazing way. Yes, there are iPads in businesses right now but they’re few and far between, not fully approved of (in many orgs) and certainly not the friend of the IT dept. This will Flip the Script like Gangstarr and really usher the tablet into the mainstream consciousness.

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That said, I’ve already had people complain to me that they don’t want that UI for their regular Desktop and they were very happy when I told them you can switch back to a Windows 7 style Aero desktop. I think MS need to make that clear just to be safe.

As for my prediction – here it is:

On the Desktop – Windows 8 will be much more for the consumer.

MS have discovered just how difficult it is to get business to move from XP to Windows 7 and I think that, for the companies that make that leap, they will be happy to stay on Windows 7 for quite some time. Do Microsoft really want to start the upgrade battle again in a little over a year? As a partner I can say that I’d rather not…I’d prefer to spend our time and resources on introducing other technologies such as Office 365, System Center, Sharepoint etc.

So I say that Windows 8 will be predominantly consumer focused to compete with Apple & Google and that Microsoft will return their full focus to the Enterprise desktop with Windows 9. By that time, Windows 7 will be 6 years old and companies will/should be ready to move…

There will of course be new features for business customers but I don’t think it will be anything like we saw in Windows 7.

Be interesting see how I fare with that prediction! Smile