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Microsoft Worldwide Partner Conference: Ballmer Keynote

Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer took the stage today to deliver the keynote address at the Microsoft Worldwide Partner Conference. Before he took the stage, a presentation was shown that displayed the efforts being taken by the company to create ways to connect Japanese survivors of the deadly tsunamis with family and friends using Windows Azure to rollout a completed web application in three days. This was followed by an interesting dance motif that really just needs to be seen to be truly appreciated. We’ll post video when it becomes available.

John Roskill took the stage and discussed some of the new partners, and highlighted some of the innovators in the field of 12,000 partners in attendance. After talking a lot about the rest of the conference and mentioning that 95% of Microsoft revenue comes from partners, he mentioned some token stats about The Cloud, seeing as Ballmer has mentioned before that the company was “going all in” with cloud services. After a 40-minute introduction, Ballmer took the stage.

A very excited Ballmer was super pumped to be at this year's conference, and mentioned that it the one conference he looks forward to most every year. He improved the previous number by saying that, in fact, 100% of revenue comes from partners. We're not sure how Microsoft employees feel about that statement. Once again, he stressed the cloud this year, and praised the partners who joined this year with sole purpose of cloud services development.

He talked about this year's Imagine Cup, which represented 183 countries and 1.4 million registrants. He showed a video that highlighted some of the outstanding projects in the competition, especially those that are using the Azure cloud platform. 

Ballmer went on to give a "State of the State" report on the progress Microsoft has made in the past year. Microsoft has enjoyed double digit growth over the past three quarters in a variety of products. He claims that Microsoft is the only company investing in both on-premises and cloud enterprise services. Bing is up, Windows Server at 76% market share, "the other guys haven't really showed up" to compete with the Office suite. 350 million new PCs were sold with Windows this year; also, "We've gone from very small to very small, but it's been a heck of a year," on the Windows Phone platform.

Ballmer talked about Bing. He said that it was the product that partners deal with the least. He claimed that Bing will open up this year to be more accessible to business opportunities for partners. Market share is up 3% this year, and along with Yahoo integration, opportunities will open up for partners to innovate. He talked about the "decision" nature of Bing, and began a demonstration of different projects in Bing. Social capabilities using Facebook data was shown off, including a nod to the new Skype video chat functionality in Facebook. Using partner services, web apps can be integrated into the search results themselves, instead of just returning information. Instead of finding a restaurant, you can actually reserve a table in the search results. maps were discussed as a "spatial search." The same functionality that partners can develop for search results can be implemented in the Bing Maps platform as well.

Next up was server/collaboration technologies in the cloud with Azure. Azure bridges the gap between public and private cloud platforms, and Ballmer thinks that this is a real advantage over the competition. The same goes for the virtualization market with Hyper-V. He highlighted examples from companies like Boeing, who used Azure to create a marketing campaign for their 737 airplanes. American Airlines was called out as an example of developing an app for Windows Phone 7 that also uses Azure as a cloud backend.

Ballmer reminded us that this is the 10-year anniversary of Microsoft Dynamics. over this time, it has sustained a growth rate of 20%. As far as business applications go, Ballmer said that the company is also "all in." He announced that this year, we will see a Microsoft CRM product will be available in the cloud using Dynamics.

100 million Office licenses were sold this year, but Ballmer emphasized that Office 365 is the key Office product launch this year. He claims that Office 365 is doing "outstanding" relative to the competition. 

The Skype acquisition ("subject to regulatory approval") is a topic that Ballmer is excited about. He sees Skype as an enterprise tool that can exist as an internal complement to IT communication and collaboration using Lync, as well as a link to external customers, all at the same time. 

Kiinect became the fastest selling consumer electronics device in history. It is being used not only for entertainment, but for business use as well. However, Xbox is still about entertainment, and Ballmer emphasized that easy and seamless entertainment content and options will continue to be a focus point of the Xbox platform. Voice control will be a big part of the Xbox experience. A demo was shown where a user controlled the Xbox interface with voice alone. A nice preview of the Windows Metro style interface was included in this demo. Bing will also be included in the voice control, to help people search content online form the couch. Live TV will also become a part of the Xbox platform in the coming Christmas update.

Ballmer talked about Windows Phone, and the plans for the future. He praised Nokia for believing in the Windows Phone platform enough to migrate their entire mobile platform to it. He mentioned that Mango has over 500 new features. once again, Microsoft is "all in" in the mobile space.

Ballmer introduced Tammy Reller, head of Windows marketing, to discuss Windows 8. Windows 7 is growing 3 times faster than Windows XP. Reller thanked the partners for being a very big part of that success. She spent a long time praising Windows 7, which has been out for 20 months already. She talked about Windows 8. the next update will be at the Build event in Anaheim. No word on what that update will bring. She gave a brief history of the updates on Windows 8 so far. Reller showed a video demo of Windows 8 that was already posted after the demo at D9 in June.

Ballmer concluded the two hour keynote by emphasizing cohesion and synergy in the next generation of Microsoft products, both in design and development. He promised in depth looks at more Microsoft products over the course of the partners conference. He finished by saying that the company is "all in." 

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