Tim Mangan is at the Microsoft Worldwide Partner Conference , in Toronto Canada, this week, and sent in this report on the happenings there:
Following up on the Report from Day 1 of the Microsoft Worldwide Partner Conference I am now into Day 3.
The day 2 Keynote started with Satya Nadella, President of the Server and Tools Business area. I remember meeting Satya over dinner at the .NET launch event 11 years ago and he was impressive even back then. Satya talked about three announcements for the day. First, he covered the gap I noticed in the first day’s keynote. Windows Server 2012 will RTM in August with GA in September. This is actually ahead of the desktop GA plan, because they don’t need to wait for Hardware manufactures to complete their OEM process on the build. The second was a Tech Preview that allows hosting partners to offer Azure like services . The third announcement is a Hyper-V Switch program, designed to encourage customers to switch to Hyper-V R3.
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We saw Microsoft do a decent job of blending traditional, private cloud, and public cloud options. Microsoft has a slight twist on the distinction between those first two in that they refer to private cloud as being if the OS is virtualized. This compares with the language Citrix uses where private cloud means that you have automated the deployment and management. So using Microsoft’s definition we have been doing private cloud for a while, and with Citrix’s we need to buy a bunch of new capabilities first.
We also heard a lot about Windows RT (the version of Windows 8 for ARM processors) and apps. What became clear to me through this keynote and other conversations I had with some Microsofties, is that on Windows RT, ONLY Metro apps will work, except for Word/Excel/PowerPoint. Previously I had thought this meant that existing x86 apps wouldn’t work because of the difference in the processors. But what became clear to me this day is that only the three parts of Office (notice Outlook is not in that list) would work as Desktop apps. No other desktop apps will work, and even office plugins will not work. Our friends at Citrix are probably not lost on that difference and I would expect them to push their receiver to XenApp as the way for enterprises to handle BYOD of those devices.
Next up on the Day 2 Keynote was Kirill Tatarinov, President of the Microsoft Business Solutions Division, which means Microsoft Dynamics. He had some cool stuff to talk about that I couldn’t care less about, so you can watch the video here www.digitalwpc.com if it is important to you.
We then heard from Laura Ipsen, from the Public Sector group, followed up by Thom Gruhler from the Windows Phone group. He “announced” Windows Phone 8 (not sure that was new news?) and spent some time showing it off. Although a different OS than the desktop OS, the design does share much of the core code and takes advantage of this. They showed being able to resize the tiles (so why can’t you to that on the Windows 8 start screen?). Is what they showed significant? I’m not a phone guy, but being better might not mean anything in a market driven by cool.
The end of the Tuesday keynote was a collection of demos of things being done in Microsoft Research and some partners. One interesting demo was a use of Kinect. They used the camera, with its positioning sensor, to move it around a person to create a 3d model of the person, then used a 3d-printer to create a plastic version of him. Another used Kinnect with a white wall and projector to be a very cheap version of a multi-touch enabled tablet (although obviously with only one camera it can’t have the detail control over one of those Perceptual Pixel devices. Some new work on Bing was also showcased, where search becomes smarter to bring multiple related ideas together into a single search.
The Day 3 keynote, on Wednesday, was all about getting the partners charged up for the next year. Kevin Turner, Chief Operating Officer took to the stage to talk about “Leveraging a new era”, playing off of the Balmer comment about this being an Epic year. He listed eight technology trends that Microsoft feels are significant right now: Cloud, Data Explosion, Social Computing, Natural Interaction, Ecosystem of Computers, Consumerization of IT, Ubiquitous Connectivity, Machine Learning. He emphasized the breadth of changes that Microsoft is providing this year, refactoring just about every product they offer in a short 12 month period. One great line given was an exhortation for partners to help “rescue people from Oracle and IBM”.
He also touched on the controversy over whether Windows 8 Metro is a tablet OS only by referring to the new OS as a “No Compromises” operating system that works as well with touch or mouse. While my initial reaction to new the OS interface wasn’t all that positive, with time I am warming a little (as in “it isn’t that bad). Once you get used to is, flipping between desktop and metro isn’t that bad, so maybe after a year or so we’ll all be used to it.
Kevin also touched on the end of Windows XP, commenting that they will have a big party for the 15th birthday of Windows XP, and then they will put it to sleep. He committed that they will not extend that date. He reminded partners that this was a $12B opportunity, and advised partners that the best way to get customers to Windows 8 is to get them to Windows 7 now. He reiterated a commitment that any PC running Windows 7 will run Windows 8. He followed that up with a comment that the best way to get customers ready for the cloud, whether that means this year or down the road, it to get Active Directory fully deployed and up to date, and System Center too. Federated Identity is still a touchy subject with customers, so it might not be as simple as that, but those are two essentials before shifting loads out to Azure.
There were a few claims made in the 60+ minute talk. He claimed that in the most recent quarter, Hyper-V is winning share from VMware for first time ever. SQL is now Worldwide unit share leader 46% of new shipments, (2.5x Oracles ( probably by unit and not by dollar?). Bing now leading Google in search relevance was another claim. In predictions, he predicted that by next year Office 365 will become the fastest growing product in the company. That news is likely not welcome to hosted exchange providers that will need to retool if it becomes reality.
In a shift towards consumer, Kevin talked about the new Microsoft Retail stores. He told retail partners, don’t worry about our stores as they will still be selling the bulk of the retail stuff. It seems as though those stores are more to counter the Apple image rather than become a revenue stream. To poke more fun ge showed a video of the Siri request about what the best smart phone ever (with a response showing the Nokia with Windows Phone). The video was shot before Apple tweaked that response in the service after being embarrassed by that answer. He also spent some time debunking the “Post PC Era” talk. In Microsoft’s view, Win8 is the new era and it is both a PC and a personal touch device. One thought I had in listening to all of this was whether Microsoft needs to sell a single Windows Surface PC for their recent event to be a success? Is the surface PC more message or more product? Considering I haven’t seen one (yet) this week, I wonder.
Closing the session out, Kevin finished by emphasizing the ”No compromises” message and charging the partners to be bold and help the customers adopt to the New Era. Microsoft is spending a lot of money refreshing pretty much all of their product line in a short 12 month period to greet and create this new era, and customers will need their help to move along.