Last time Microsoft’s Worldwide Partner Conference (WPC) was in Toronto it was 2012 and then-CEO Steve Ballmer was announcing Windows 8 as his microphone kept failing the audience.
How things change with the passage of only four years. Satya Nadella is the CEO of Microsoft, Cortana is here and the show went without a hitch as far as one could tell.
The opening keynote was once again at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre, but instead of new product announcements (rumour has it that the partner application store AppSource, a rebranding, was accidentally announced prematurely) and opportunities for VARs and resellers, the keynote was one challenge after the other extended to ISVs to build on the Microsoft platforms. AvePoint’s Citizen Services is one of the first 200 apps on the new portal.
To hammer the point home that solving problems and extending technology to all corners is the route to success Nadella invited GE Chairman and CEO Jeff Immelt onto the stage to speak about how his company has become a software company. He also insisted that the era of outsourcing has come and gone and successful companies of the future must innovate with technology or die.
The aforementioned Cortana was the first product to get a name check followed by Dynamics365 from Nadella followed by less tangible, but more fundamental concepts, like “digital transformation” and the Cloud residing in every endpoint was also discussed. The technology is impressive, but also from a sheer cool factor point-of-view the demonstration of a virtual engine via HoloLens in collaboration with JAL (Japan’s largest airline) took the cake.
Microsoft is increasingly a platform company. That is obvious. It is interesting to watch how much Nadella and the company can extend the giant’s distinct platforms away from licensed SKUs and line items into the platform realm without going too far revenue-wise i.e. whether the balancing act can come fast enough.
By the way, did anyone see or hear any mention of the recent LinkedIn purchase? After all, it was only last month that Microsoft announced its intention to spend $26 billion (US) on the acquisition.
*I do work on behalf of AvePoint and also worked at Microsoft.
*Things That Need To Go Away: Attending Conferences Without A Clear Benefit Or Specific Outcome