This year’s Microsoft Worldwide Partner Conference (WPC) is interesting to me as it allows a moment of reflection. Ten years ago, WPC 2003 in New Orleans was focused on SMB and the Windows Small Business Server 2003 (SBS) launch. In 2013, on day one, I was hard-pressed to “hear” the term SMB in any of the keynotes. Sure, Tami Reller, CMO and CFO-Windows, mentioned SMB once in passing, but it wasn’t the same. Rather – the conference messaging pillars were much more focused on the enterprise with BIG DATA, Cloud, Enterprise Social and Devices and Mobility. You will see more SMB messaging in the breakouts and Cindy Bates “Regional Keynote” on Thursday but it’s not 2003, baby.
Note that today, on Day Two, Microsoft promoted its Dynamics suite as the SMB conversation of the day here: http://www.microsoft.com/en-us/news/Features/2013/Jul13/07-09PartnerOpportunity.aspx. But I can debate if that solution is truly embraced by the “S” of SMB or is Dynamics truly a mid-sized concept.
One topic that was glossed over in Day One is the BIGGEST opportunity of the year: Windows XP and ’03 Server migrations. The end-of-support for Windows XP and the Server ’03 family (including Exchange and SBS) is April 8, 2014. It represents the great partner opportunity over the next year. You’ll hear a lot more about this in Bates’ speech on Thursday as the US SMB team is hyper-focused on the “Get To Modern” campaign.
Clearly the “trending topic” for Day One was the discounted Surface tablet purchase program. Attendees are able to purchase the Windows 8-based tablets on-site for a deeply discounted price (the RT was only $99). But, as other analysts have noted, there was a lack of insight into how Microsoft Partners are resell the tablets as part of a mobile device solution suite.
This year, for a number of personal and professional reasons, I’m watching the WPC event remotely via the Digital WPC site (www.digitalwpc.com). Personally – I’ve got a 200-mile bike ride coming up this weekend, and we are announcing two new product lines on Thursday, which are consuming my attention – so travel (and WPC partying) wasn’t advisable. However, my virtual attendance plays handsomely into my “Hybrid Conferencing” mantra that I articulated here. (http://www.smbnation.com/content/news/entry/here-comes-hybrid-conferencing).
Interestingly, many of my WPC 2003 attendee friends are not attending WPC 2013. A decade ago, Microsoft generously hosted the SMB/SBS MVPs. This year I’m not aware of many/any of the SMB/SBS MVPs attending live. Notables such as Karl Palachuk aren’t attending live. That’s not necessarily a WPC criticism, but merely a reflection on changing times.
Stay tuned for additional updates!
UPDATED: Mary Jo to the rescue!
God bless Mary Jo Foley. She attended a breakout session on Windows XP migrations hosted by Erwin Visser, General Manager of Windows Commercial. Foley reports that Microsoft released new data showing 37.17% of the worldwide desktops are still Windows XP. I implore you to click here and honor Mary Jo with your readership.