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Microsoft's Official WPC Enemies List

During the registration process for the Microsoft Worldwide Partner Conference, potential attendees come across what amounts to an enemies list in the small print.

"The following companies and their employees and representatives are excluded from attending and participating in WPC 2012 and affiliated events," a pop-up window during registration reads. Microsoft's prohibited companies are:

  • Google
  • Oracle
  • VMware

This kind of company-specific exclusion is probably common at vendor events. I'd expect it, for example, at an event for a managed services provider remote monitoring and management tool vendor, a market where many companies offer very similar and mutually exclusive products. From Microsoft, though, it's a little surprising.

On the company secrets side, it's a bit like tilting at windmills. It seems futile to ban potential attendees when many of the keynotes are digitally streamed and many of the sessions also go up on

For another, many of Microsoft's best partners also already belong to the partner programs of Google, Oracle, or VMware. To expect that those vendors wouldn't be able to count on those existing personal relationships for at least some information about what Microsoft is up to would be unrealistic.

It would also seem to undermine one of Microsoft's main strengths: It's a technology empire that makes money from many different sources. Oracle wins a lot of ERP, CRM and database business from Microsoft, but Oracle customers still invest heavily in Windows servers, Windows desktops and Office software. Wherever money is made in tech, Microsoft historically has gotten a piece, and part of that is from working well with everyone, at least in certain areas.

One way the ban might make logical sense is in preventing direct competitors from coming in and trying to poach Microsoft's best asset at the show: the partners themselves. Still, prohibiting direct competitors in key areas from putting up a booth on the show floor would seem like a pretty effective way to dampen competitive recruiting. And if recruiting were a motivation, it seems that Apple's recent efforts to build a channel in part from Microsoft partners should land Cupertino on the list.

At the least, the list is probably a pretty good preview of who will come in for abuse from Microsoft COO Kevin Turner in Toronto this July. During his usual WPC-closing keynote, Turner rips into competitors with gusto. Last year, in addition to the four listed above, Turner also focused on Apple and Cisco.

What's your take? Is it just spite that bans these companies from WPC, or does Microsoft have good reasons to keep them out of the convention center?

Posted by Scott Bekker on May 21, 2012