Live from WPC 2012: Day 1

With Microsoft's Worldwide Partner Conference now underway we get one of our insiders to take a look at what the tech giant is doing to win the hearts and minds of its corporate partners.

It’s day one of the Microsoft Worldwide Partner Conference and over 16,000 partners from around the world are gathered in Toronto, Canada, to get the low down on how Microsoft can help fuel a portion of their business in the year ahead.

Despite a few technical hiccups which marred Steve Ballmer’s address – four microphone changes is not a good thing – the clear theme from today is that Microsoft is betting big on Windows 8 and it needs the market to respond in a positive light for this bet to be a success.

With the release of Windows 8 scheduled for the first week of August and the general availability announced for the end of October, Microsoft is setting itself up to ensure that its products are on shelves for the lucrative holiday season. 

It also became clear today that Microsoft is getting worried about its dominance in the desktop space, especially in the consumer segment, which is moving very fast.

Tami Reller who is the chief financial officer of the Windows division, revealed a range of new devices. Standouts were the aptly named Lenovo Yoga, which folds back to make a tablet like device, new Acer Ultrabooks that looked very similar to Apple’s current range of Ultrabooks, and Samsung Ultra Portables.

Reller highlighted some interesting features, such as the ability to set a gesture based password for touchscreen unlocking and how to show birthdays and other calendar information on the home screen.

Microsoft’s new App Store for Windows 8 also made an appearance and we were shown how Fruit Ninja would look like when you purchased it from the App Store. Reller went on to show us a great new feature called Windows 8 To Go where you can load the entire operating system onto a small USB device (32GB) and run it on any old desktop and have a fully functional version of Windows 8 running in just a few minutes.

What was surprising from Reller’s talk was that there were no announcements about new enterprise features or how it would be licensed for business let alone how partners will generate new revenue or assist their current customers in making the transition.

Another notable miss was Microsoft’s recently revealed Windows Slate device which was not featured at all during today’s keynote.

Today also marked the first time we have seen Microsoft use terms such as “consumerisation of IT” and “the growing trend of BYO”. This is a big thing for the company as it has always kept businesses and consumers separate in its marketing.

With its new Windows Phone and Windows 8 campaigns Microsoft is acknowledging business users actually have a personal life and choice when they leave the office.

It also shows that it are waking up to the fact that in order to keep its hold on the enterprise space it needs to win the hearts and minds of consumers when they’re out of the office.

Rhys Evans is national practice manager Enterprise Information Systems at Thomas Duryea Consulting.