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Microsoft WPC: Ballmer heads for the cloud

Microsoft WPC: Ballmer heads for the cloud

Admits Microsoft dropped the ball with Windows Mobile, but insisted Windows Phone 7 would be a far more competitive device

Microsoft's Steve Ballmer

Microsoft's Steve Ballmer

  • IN DEPTH: Full wrap of Microsoft World Partner Conference 2010 - news, interviews, slideshows

It was perhaps expected, but Microsoft CEO, Steve Ballmer, focused much of this Worldwide Partner Conference 2010 on the cloud.

In his opening address to the crowd, Ballmer said: “I want to say thank you, and thank you in advance – there’s as much to do, if not more in the next 12 months.”

Microsoft’s main focus is in the opportunities the cloud will create moving forward, Ballmer said. “The cloud will create, for all of us, new opportunities and new responsibilities,” he said. “For years there have been classes of customers that were hard to service, small business, foreign subsidies that were very remote.”

A small ISV in America will now be able to better deliver a solution effectively to a Tokyo-based customer, Ballmer used as an example, but of course, that additional opportunity creates some new responsibilities.

Partners will be more effective in security when a customer is entrusting more data to the cloud, Ballmer said. However, given some of the customers that Microsoft has taken on board – Coca-Cola, McDonald's, Starbucks, Nokia, Universal and Lions Gate Pictures, it would seem the cloud security solutions the vendor is investing in are capable of overriding even the largest organisations’ concerns.

Ballmer also pointed to the significance of consumer devices, and building more intelligent devices to interact in more meaningful way with cloud data.

He mentioned the Xbox 360’s Kinect device as one that allows the control of a device using body movement and voice prompts. One would assume this means Microsoft is looking at developing more natural ways to control smart devices.

The vendor is working with Asus, Sony, Toshiba, Dell, and others, on development of slates that will compete with the Apple iPad in the enterprise space, and devices that are cloud-ready. On the phone side, it is working with (amongst others), LG, HTC, Samsung and Sony Ericcson.

Ballmer said Microsoft dropped the ball with Windows Mobile, but insisted Windows Phone 7 would be a far more competitive device in the space.

“We want to really push forward with Windows 7 slates and phones,” Ballmer said. “It's an area where we feel all of the energy and vigour and push that we have ever felt with anything else. We know that you as partners have customers that have a lot that they want to do at work and home with these devices.”

Key around Microsoft’s messaging in this space is the ability for Windows slates and phones, while acting as consumer devices, to be also able to integrate seamlessly with an enterprises’ infrastructure.

It would seem that Microsoft is attempting to gain marketplace traction in an almost opposite fashion to Apple – where the former’s strategy was to create devices for the consumer that eventually find their way into corporate environments, Microsoft seems keen to create enterprise-friendly devices that individual workers would then be happy to also use in the home.

Matthew Sainsbury attended the Microsoft Worldwide Partner Conference 201O as a guest of Microsoft


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