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WPC Flashback: Top 10 Kevin Turner-isms

Each year at the Microsoft Worldwide Partner Conference (WPC), Microsoft sends out COO Kevin Turner for a closing keynote that gives partner attendees an entertaining but forceful kick in the pants to go home and redouble their sales efforts.

In Houston, Turner was a little less incendiary than in years past, with fewer disparaging things to say about competitors and with less of his presentation time dedicated to making fun of others in the industry.

Here are 10 of the most interesting, and in some cases inflammatory, things Turner said this year:

10. "Best deployment numbers"
"We've got the best deployment numbers in the history of our company. Right now we're 73 percent current on Windows in the enterprise and 62 percent current on Office. And that's not good enough. But boy, we're making progress. We're pushing, both of us collectively."

9. Called Surface "A hero platform"
"We designed our first first-party hardware with Surface RT and Surface Pro...We put those in market to have a hero platform, to have a beautiful stage to put Windows 8 on. Is it a tablet or is it a laptop? Do you need two devices? We don't think so. And we took a different point of view with that."

8. "You're going to care about Haswell"
"Intel's got a great new chip out called Haswell. And you're going to care about Haswell, because it has the ability to operate fanless devices. So thinner, better battery life is on the way across the ecosystem."

7. "86 percent"
As in previous keynotes, Turner trotted out Secunia statistics on security. "This past year, ladies and gentlemen, 86 percent of all the vulnerabilities in the most popular platforms were not on the Microsoft platform. Eighty-six percent of the vulnerabilities were on the other guys' platforms."

6. "Feel free to use our stores as an extension of your office"
Turner, who came from retail, is a huge internal advocate of Microsoft Stores. He encouraged attendees to bring customers and their teams to the Microsoft Stores.

5. "Dude, this is Microsoft"
"No other company in the world has 20,000 cloud partners. Some people would say, 'Hey, we should celebrate that, that's great.' Dude, this is Microsoft. We're a company for partners, built by partners, with partners. I want all 600,000-plus selling and transacting in the cloud."

4. "You're Getting Scroogled"
The phrase appeared on one of his slides; Turner didn't actually repeat it. He did say, "Google goes through every word of every Gmail that's sent or received to sell ads. Outlook.com is different. You won't see ads based on keywords from your personal e-mail."

3. KT said something nice about the competition...

"We should absolutely have high respect [for], but absolutely no fear of any one of these competitors. Respect everyone, fear no one."

2. ...and left the hammer (partly) to Oracle
"Ironically, we found some common ground with Oracle. This came from Larry Ellison: 'Salesforce.com's Force.com platform is the roach motel of cloud services, amounting to the ultimate vendor lock-in due to its use of custom programming languages.' I think Larry said that very, very well. Don't let our customers go to the roach motel."

1. "It's about frickin' time, don't you agree?"
Turner said after playing a pair of new Microsoft ads pitting the Microsoft Surface RT against the Apple iPad.

Posted by Scott Bekker on August 05, 2013 at 9:47 AM0 comments

Microsoft Pushes Back Start of Country Qualifications

  • Stay on top of changes to the Microsoft Partner Network with RCP's MPN Roadmap.

Microsoft is pushing back on the start date for the new country qualification requirements for partner competencies.

The basic idea is that partners with practices in more than one country will have to earn their competency in every country they want to claim the competency in.

So, for example, a partner who wants to claim a Small Business gold competency in both the United States and the United Kingdom must have the full complement of Microsoft Certified Professionals, customer case studies, and people passing the required sales and licensing exams in both countries.

When Microsoft Partner Network General Manager Julie Bennani originally announced the change in May, the plan was to roll out the country qualification requirements in October. A document distributed in July around the time of the Microsoft Worldwide Partner Conference pushed the date back to January 2014.

Now a Microsoft spokesperson says the country qualifications won't take effect until the end of Microsoft's fiscal year 2014, which means the end of June 2014.

Companies on the RCP "Most Competent Partner" list, most of whom have a dozen or more competencies with operations in multiple countries, and other large partner organizations have to be breathing a sigh of relief at the extension.

Posted by Scott Bekker on July 31, 2013 at 11:58 AM0 comments

Microsoft Drops Surface RT Prices

A week after almost giving away Microsoft Surface RTs to partners at the Microsoft Worldwide Partner Conference (WPC), Microsoft has formally dropped the price for all of its consumer-oriented productivity tablets running Windows RT by $150.

A price cut appeared for all four Surface RT models on Sunday:

  • The 32GB model is now $349, down from $499 (a 30 percent cut).
  • The 64GB model is now $449, down from $699 (a 21 percent cut).
  • The 32GB model with the black Touch Cover is now $449, down from $599 (a 25 percent cut).
  • The 64GB model with the black Touch Cover is now $549, down from $699 (a 21 percent cut).

The Microsoft Surface Pro, which runs a full version of Windows 8 Pro rather than the limited-functionality Windows RT OS, is not marked down for now. Prices for that tablet remain $899 for the 64GB model and $999 for the 128GB model.

At WPC, Microsoft offered partner attendees the chance to buy the 64GB Surface RT with the black Touch Cover for $100, the 128GB Surface Pro for $400 or both for $500. Microsoft offered a similar deal to attendees of its TechEd conference, and gave Surfaces away to developer attendees of Build.

During the WPC, Microsoft officials said more than 16,000 Surfaces had sold by Wednesday morning with two full days of the conference to go.

Analysts at IDC have said Surface has sold about 900,000 units in each of the last two quarters, which are relatively weak figures in the hyper-growth tablet market. The price cuts come just as Microsoft is releasing an aggressive series of commercials comparing Windows 8-based tablets and iPad.

The new Surface RT prices give Microsoft a much stronger story against the full-sized Apple iPad on price. The 16GB iPad starts at $499, which is the same price as Surface with a keyboard and double the storage, although Windows RT gobbles up much more of the internal storage than iOS.

Game on or just clearing inventory ahead of Surface 2/Surface Plus? Leave your thoughts below or drop me a line at sbekker@rcpmag.com.

Posted by Scott Bekker on July 15, 2013 at 4:07 PM0 comments

WPC Day 3 Twitter Highlights: Surface as a 'Hero' Platform, WPC 2014 Location, More

  • Stay up-to-date on the latest news from WPC here.

Once again, Scott live-Tweeted his way through today's Worldwide Partner Conference keynote, which featured the always-entertaining Kevin Turner, Microsoft COO. Follow Scott @scottbekker and visit our WPC 2013 portal page here to stay on top of all the conference happenings.

More News and Analysis from WPC 2013:

Posted by Scott Bekker on July 10, 2013 at 11:58 AM0 comments

RCP/Rocket Excellence in Growth Award Winners

Earlier this year, Redmond Channel Partner magazine teamed with Revenue Rocket Consulting Group to create an award for IT services companies with unique business strategies that are resulting in sustained growth.

Today we're pleased to announce the three winners of our inaugural award: Axis Group, LLC, a business intelligence (BI) solutions provider for mid-market and Global 1000 companies; Envision LLC, a provider of custom applications development, integration services, software product and staffing services; and Intellinet Corporation, an IT Management as a Service (MaaS) company, specializing in network management, cloud innovation and information technology services.

The award recognizes the companies for their innovative business strategies that resulted in sustained growth over a three-year period, from 2010 through 2012.

The award sought applications from U.S.-based IT services firms with annual revenues between $5 and $75 million.

Stay tuned for the October issue of RCP when we'll profile the winners and tell their inspiring growth stories.

Posted by Scott Bekker on July 09, 2013 at 11:58 AM0 comments

WPC: With 1 Million Servers, Microsoft Claims Second-Biggest Datacenter

  • Stay up-to-date on the latest news from WPC here.

Steve Ballmer paused in Microsoft's flurry of datacenter construction to assess Microsoft's position in the race among the megavendors investing in scaled public cloud infrastructure.

Speaking at the Microsoft Worldwide Partner Conference Monday in Houston, Ballmer provided some rare context on the size of Microsoft's server farms and how big he thinks the company's main competitors have gotten.

"We have something over a million servers in our datacenter infrastructure," said Ballmer, noting that the build-out started in support of the Bing and Office 365 services, which provided institutional knowledge that is being built into Azure server farms.

Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer at Monday's WPC keynote. (Source: Microsoft)

Ballmer only lays claim to second place from those billions of dollars in capital expenditures that funded datacenters all over the world. "Google is bigger than we are. Amazon is a little bit smaller," he said.

The rest of the field is pretty limited -- at least at the Google-Microsoft-Amazon order of magnitude, Ballmer suggested. "You get Yahoo and Facebook, and then everybody else is 100,000 units probably or less," he said.

Like any good businessman, Ballmer then rephrased the issue to make the case that Microsoft is still No. 1 even if it's No. 2.

"The number of companies that are at the same time seriously investing in the private cloud, which is not going away, and in these hybrid clouds is really just one and that's us," he said.

More News and Analysis from WPC 2013:

Posted by Scott Bekker on July 09, 2013 at 11:58 AM0 comments

WPC: MPN To Add Design Competency

  • Stay up-to-date on the latest news from WPC here.

In yet another sign of Microsoft's newfound commitment to aesthetics, the Microsoft Partner Network (MPN) will add a competency in User Experience Design in January.

MPN competencies are badges that partners can earn to demonstrate their expertise in a given practice area. Microsoft currently has 25 competencies, each with either a silver or gold level. Achieving a competency requires a partner to employ professionals with relevant certifications, pay a joining fee, complete other training and, in some cases, make revenue commitments.

Tami Reller, Microsoft's chief marketing officer and chief financial officer for Windows, announced the User Experience Design competency during her keynote Monday at the Microsoft Worldwide Partner Conference in Houston.

Microsoft's Tami Reller speaking at Monday's WPC keynote. (Source: Microsoft)

"Apps that are better designed, they absolutely achieve better ratings in the Windows Store, and even equally as important, they are more engaging for customers, and they deliver greater monetization opportunities," Reller said. "The whole idea behind this competency is to give you the best way to train your designers and to get recognized for your expertise with the Microsoft design language and user experience for app building."

Microsoft first began gaining notice for its design work with the Windows Phone launch several years ago, and many of the design principles behind the Windows Phone UI and that platform's apps influenced the design of Windows 8.

In a blog posting about the new competency, Orlando O'Neill, product marketing manager for Windows Apps, reinforced Microsoft's current attitude toward design.

"In the past few years, we've focused on improving the user experience and design of our platforms, making them more intuitive, familiar and enjoyable to engage with. Our point of view is embodied in the Microsoft design language: we sweat the details of every pixel, we let the OS fade into the background while your ideas and content come to the fore, and we believe in presenting content and controls in a way that is authentically digital," O'Neill wrote. "We firmly believe that user experience and design are going to be the next big differentiators for Microsoft and, more importantly, for the apps and experiences that you build for your customers."

While Reller didn't say so, Microsoft has been increasingly steering incentive money through Gold Competency partners in recent years, and Microsoft's ongoing efforts to expand the number of Windows Store apps are likely to mean more MDF funds and other incentives for partners with the competency than those without.

More News and Analysis from WPC 2013:

Posted by Scott Bekker on July 09, 2013 at 11:58 AM0 comments

WPC Day 1 Twitter Highlights: Ballmer Touts Microsoft Cloud, Power BI Impresses, More

  • Stay up-to-date on the latest news from WPC here.

RCP Editor in Chief Scott Bekker is in Houston this week for Microsoft's Worldwide Partner Conference. He live-Tweeted all through Monday's opening keynote -- the high points are below. Stay up-to-date on all WPC-related news and impressions by following Scott at @scottbekker and bookmarking our WPC 2013 page here.

More News and Analysis from WPC 2013:

Posted by Scott Bekker on July 08, 2013 at 11:58 AM0 comments

WPC: Microsoft Rolls Out Cloud, Big Data Tech Previews

  • Stay up-to-date on the latest news from WPC here.

Microsoft's Server and Tools Business on Monday rolled out a series of technology previews and incentives aimed at making Microsoft's cloud and big data offerings more robust and easy for businesses to use.

Satya Nadella, Microsoft STB president, announced the cloud offerings during a keynote Monday at the Microsoft Worldwide Partner Conference in Houston and in a blog post.

"The technology to help our partners realize the opportunities in cloud computing and big data is here and the time to collectively help our customers embrace these mega trends is now," Nadella wrote in his blog entry.

Nadella provided details on five programs:

Power BI for Office 365 got the biggest crowd reaction at WPC, especially after an entertaining demo by Microsoft Technical Fellow Amir Netz, who pulled visual data on the comparative popularity of different music stars over the decades and breathlessly narrated the results as if it were a horse race.

Nadella described Power BI as "our new self-service business intelligence (BI) solution that combines the data analysis and visualization capabilities of Excel with the power of collaboration, scale and trusted cloud environment of Office 365."

Power BI requires an IT department or partner to prepare data sets, such as company financial data or CRM data, and place them in a Data Catalog, which is hosted in SharePoint Online. IT can configure how frequently the data is updated. Users can then import that internal data and combine it with public data prepared by Microsoft from sources such as Wikipedia.

Once they've found data from the catalog, end users can use Excel to connect data from different sources and analyze it.

Power BI also allows the creation of BI Sites, where companies can set up dedicated workspaces for business intelligence projects. Mobile apps will allow for access to those BI sites from iPads or Windows 8 devices. Another feature, called Q&A, includes a natural language query experience in which users ask questions of the data in a search box and get back answers in a table, graph or map, depending on how Power BI interprets the question.

[Click on image for larger view.] Q&A in Power BI. (Source: Microsoft)

Jon Roskill, corporate vice president of the Worldwide Partner Group, highlighted Power BI as a huge partner opportunity. "With the launch of Power BI for Office 365, partners will be able to bring powerful BI solutions to SMBs," Roskill said.

A public preview of Power BI for Office 365 will be available later this summer. Microsoft has not released pricing for the production version, but officials say it will be a per-user, per-month model.

A Premium offer for Windows Azure SQL Database will offer dedicated capacity "for more powerful and predictable performance from Azure databases," Nadella said.

"One of the challenges with [Windows Azure] SQL is what I'll call noisy neighbors," said Eron Kelly, general manager of SQL Server Product Marketing, in an interview. "With the new premium version, we're locking down and dedicating a certain amount of capacity -- bandwidth and CPU."

The premium Platform as a Service database will debut as a preview toward the end of July. Once in production, customers will pay an additional fee per core along with the standard per-gigabyte price of SQL Azure. The per-core price will be disclosed later.

New Windows Azure Active Directory capabilities will extend AD management to third-party cloud services, making it possible for organizations to control employee accounts for cloud services used as part of their job. While Microsoft is working with some of the biggest Software as a Service vendors to integrate their services with Azure AD, the system is also extensible so ISVs and other third parties can create their own integrations.

Cloud OS Accelerate is an incentive program to encourage new private and hybrid cloud solutions for customers. A $100 million combined investment in incentives for Cloud OS Accelerate will be made by Microsoft, Cisco, NetApp, Hitachi Data Systems, HP and Dell.

A Windows Intune offer will go into effect Oct. 1 for discounting Microsoft's cloud management suite. Customers who buy Windows Intune as part of the Office 365 or CAL suite will get a 30 percent discount, Microsoft officials said.

More News and Analysis from WPC 2013:

Posted by Scott Bekker on July 08, 2013 at 11:58 AM0 comments

Mattrick Throwing Microsoft Reorg into Disarray?

Don Mattrick's departure for Zynga could be delaying CEO Steve Ballmer's rumored reorganization plan for Microsoft.

All Things D's Kara Swisher in early June reported, based on anonymous sources, that Ballmer was in the midst of a major "devices and services"-themed reorganization. According to Swisher's original report and a late June update, Mattrick, president of Microsoft's Interactive Entertainment Business, seemed slated for a major role in the executive shuffle, which Swisher reported might come as soon as July 1.

On July 1, however, Microsoft released a company memo from Ballmer about Mattrick's planned departure to become CEO of the social gaming company, which is best known for FarmVille.

Swisher's reporting had emphasized that the suspected winners in the reorganization would be Satya Nadella, president of the Microsoft Servers and Tools division; Tony Bates, president of Skype; and Don Mattrick, president of the Interactive Entertainment Division.

Bloomberg reporter Dina Bass moved the story forward Wednesday morning with an anonymously sourced story of her own suggesting that Ballmer was considering Mattrick to run hardware engineering, an important post in a devices and services reorganization. Now, according to Bass, that job may go to Windows engineering head Julie Larson-Green, currently a corporate vice president.

The Bloomberg report also has:

  • Tony Bates, president of the Skype division, running acquisitions and relationships with software developers and OEM partners.

  • Satya Nadella, president of the Server & Tools Business, running cloud computing and products for corporate customers.

  • Qi Lu, president of the Online Services Division, running an applications and services engineering unit covering Bing, Office and Skype engineering.

  • Tami Reller, chief marketing officer and chief financial officer for Windows, running an overall Microsoft marketing unit.

Posted by Scott Bekker on July 03, 2013 at 11:58 AM0 comments

Ballmer at Build: 'Rapid Release, Rapid Release'

Windows 8.1 is coming fast on the heels of Windows 8 -- for a Microsoft update, at least.

Microsoft released a preview of Windows 8.1 yesterday, a scant seven months after the release of Windows 8, with a final version of Windows 8.1 coming as a free upgrade from Windows 8 later this year.

Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer, for one, wanted to make sure the 6,000 developers at Microsoft's Build show, and the 60,000 people watching Build online, took note of that speed.

"If there's not one other message that I reach you with in my opening remarks, it's about the transformation that we are going through as a company to move to an absolutely rapid-release cycle -- rapid release, rapid release," Ballmer said.

Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer on stage at Wednesday's opening Build keynote. (Source: Microsoft)

To be sure, Windows 8.1 is not a Windows-7-to-Windows-8-scale transition, or even a Windows-Vista-to-Windows-7-class update. Julie Larson-Green, corporate vice president of Windows Engineering, defined Windows 8.1 as a refinement that brings about 800 changes to the operating system. The changes, Larson-Green said, "address everything from performance, efficiency, to the look and feel and new features in the product. We designed 8.1 to feel natural [on] everything from the new mini small tablets up to large, powerful work stations." (Click here for more details on the changes in Windows 8.1.)

Even though it's not a lot of feature change on a Microsoft OS scale, it's a lot of updates for Microsoft to jam through an OS release process that used to last about three years.

It's another example of the way Apple, and then Google, have shocked Microsoft into action. Just as the iPad's near-instant-on finally scared Microsoft and its OEM partners into really prioritizing that capability, the fast cycle of iterative feature releases Apple adopted with iOS is finding its way into the Windows release cycle.

Ballmer promised attendees that the release cycle was not a one-time thing, and used the opportunity to make sure Microsoft partners understood their role in the new cycle. "We're certainly going to show you Windows 8.1 today. But you can think of that, in a sense, as the new norm for everything we do," he said. "For Windows releases, in addition to what we're doing with devices through our partners, what we're doing with Azure and Office 365, rapid-release cadence is absolutely fundamental to what we're doing and, frankly, to the way we need to mobilize our ecosystem of hardware and software development partners."

Posted by Scott Bekker on June 27, 2013 at 11:58 AM0 comments

Microsoft Reorg Details To Come July 1?

Internal rumblings from Microsoft make it sound as if the executive shakeup that CEO Steve Ballmer is rumored to be working on will be more than the usual late-June game of musical chairs.

AllThingsD's Kara Swisher, who broke the story of the pending executive shakeup in early June, wrote an update Sunday night suggesting that the "level of worry" is growing among Microsoft executives.

"Ballmer has been making these significant plans with limited consultation with the wider leadership group at the software giant. Instead, he has been working with only a small group of his direct reports and also some Microsoft board members, numerous sources said," Swisher wrote.

She quoted one anonymous source "close to the situation" as saying the reorg has the feel of a "legacy" project for Ballmer: "It's the first time in a long time that it feels like that there will be some major shifts, including some departures."

According to Swisher, Ballmer is likely to unveil the reorg plans to top executives on July 1. In the past, Microsoft has often revealed executive changes in the last few weeks of June as the end of the company's fiscal year approached.

Ballmer reportedly is reorganizing the company around the "devices and services" meme that he broached in a shareholder letter in October. The nuance of that letter's text left Microsoft's position as a software company that produces a few hardware devices unchanged, but emphasized that the software is mostly aimed now at powering devices and increasingly enabling cloud services.

Along those lines, Swisher's reporting has emphasized that the suspected winners in the reorganization will be Satya Nadella, president of the Microsoft Servers and Tools division; Tony Bates, president of Skype; and Don Mattrick, president of the Interactive Entertainment Division.

A big open question since the departure of Windows President Steven Sinofsky in November is where the core Windows business would fall within a devices-and-services structure. Ballmer did little to clarify Windows' direction when he let Sinofsky's departure pass without handing the bureaucratic authority of a presidential title to another executive. Instead he split the job between Tami Reller and Julie Larson-Green.

In an interview with RCP this month, Jon Roskill, corporate vice president of the Microsoft Worldwide Partner Group, declined to comment on the reorganization rumors. Roskill has been Microsoft's channel chief for three years -- a short tenure compared to his immediate predecessor Allison Watson's eight-year term, but a respectable amount of time compared to Watson's predecessors.

Meanwhile, the speaker lineup for the Microsoft Worldwide Partner Conference keynotes July 8-10 sheds some possible light on the situation, but could obviously be changed in the wake of a reorg. Current keynoters include Ballmer, Roskill, Nadella, Reller, COO Kevin Turner and Worldwide Public Sector Corporate Vice President Laura Ipsen.

Posted by Scott Bekker on June 24, 2013 at 11:58 AM0 comments