WPC Day 3 – Signs of Hope


Microsoft WPC is a fun event, lot’s of information comes out and in typical Microsoft fashion, it’s always about the hope and potential of mostly unfinished or half baked ideas. That’s not necessarily a negative thing, as it provides for an elaborate ecosystem of solution providers that can develop and position the technology in a way that makes a difference for the end customer.

I guess most of the fear on the partner side is that Microsoft is getting a lot less half baked stuff and is relying less on partners to solve the “simple” stuff. That’s just the impression that I get.

Today looked different. You can sense a feeling of humility in the Borg collective. They have taken punches from all angles and some hard decisions (ie, cuts, firing, product drops) had to be made. It seems to have refocused them.

Even Kevin Turner, the embodiment of competitive Microsoft that doesn’t need anyone and is winning, seems clearly bothered that despite the advances Microsoft is making, they are hardly getting the credit for it. Lot’s of stats and numbers in that conversation, some damning for the competition – Microsoft laptop share is into 90% percent while Apple is around 7% – yet Apple gets all the press and all the fame.

In my humble opinion, Microsoft executives need to figure out how it is that all the buzz is around Apple and Google and how Microsoft is not even in the discussion. For Microsoft – who has the most elaborate partner program, the ecosystem, the marketing budget and the loyal following among partners and developers – what is Microsoft doing for it’s partners?

We all pay to come to the Microsoft WPC to find out what Microsoft is doing next, because we’ve been herded in a way that we should follow Microsoft. I think Microsoft is at a point where (given all it’s competition) it needs to start talking to it’s base and get it excited about it’s products again.

Which brings me to the highlight of the event: Bill Buxton from Microsoft Research is the person Microsoft needs to put front and center as it tries to “reboot” it’s offerings. Bill is an extremely passionate and excited guy that seemed to truly love the technology Microsoft is making – Microsoft needs more of that. Microsoft’s new chief, while I can understand is nervous and awkward on the third day of his new job, is nowhere near where Allison Watson was and has a long way to go. Things look good for Microsoft but there are a lot of if’s and big decisions they have to make. Don’t envy the position one bit.

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