Microsoft Worldwide Partner Conference 2013 Key Themes
If your business is dependent upon Microsoft’s product strategy and partners, attending the annual Microsoft Worldwide Partner Conference is a must. It is an efficient vehicle to connect with partners and gain insight into Microsoft’s priorities. This year 14,000 partners and Microsoft employees convened in Houston, TX to connect, align, and plan for the coming year.
Microsoft’s focus on “Devices and Services” reflects a simplification in their partnering message. DPE (Developer and Platform Evangelism – the primary Microsoft organization managing ISVs) is laser focused on driving applications and services. Their mission is to provide “Get-To-Market” support for apps in the Windows Store and Windows Azure. “Go-To-Market” ISV support sits with Microsoft specialist and industry teams focused on the enterprise.
By focusing on Devices and Services, Microsoft is leveraging their competitive strength of having a common (modern) UI across phone, tablet, PC, and TVs. This enables them to compete better with Apple in tablets and phones (where security and enterprise integration isn’t as strong) and Google (whose Android user experience isn’t as consistent). Their Services mission centers on Windows Azure and Office 365. Both are billion dollar businesses now, with real traction.
Microsoft’s competitive advantage in the cloud is around hybrid cloud scenarios: they are in a unique position to offer public and private cloud solutions and announced further efforts to provide consistency between the two (the Azure Pack provides a Azure UI for private cloud provisioning). This hybrid message enables Microsoft to differentiate themselves from Amazon, Google, VMWare, and other cloud competitors who focus on either public cloud or private cloud solutions.
The implication for ISVs is that you need to drive significant Windows 8 device deployment and/or consumption of Microsoft cloud services to warrant Microsoft sales & marketing attention. Note that cloud is serving as an effective annuity engine for Microsoft so it cares less about what is running in it (gone is the .NET vs. Open Source jihad).
Microsoft identified 4 megatrends: cloud, mobility, social, and big data. These provide customer scenarios for their varied product groups as well as context for their recent internal reorganization into 4 product divisions: Devices, Applications and Services, Cloud and Enterprise, and Operating Systems.
My favorite WPC ISV breakout sessions were the cloud business model and SaaS pricing strategies sessions. Cloud is still a significant shift for many ISVs: Microsoft is encouraging this transition through education (e.g., the IDC cloud partner study), program changes (a new cloud track for Microsoft Partner Network competencies), and incentives (including a new 20% discount on Azure consumption for Gold Application Development partners).
The best part of WPC is engaging other partners and Microsoft stakeholders. You can review selected highlights and the supporting social network feeds at DigitalWPC.