Microsoft Partner Conference: What Went On?

Annual partner conferences are a great time for vendors, partners and customers. At these love fests, technology vendors launch new products and use the occasion to pay particular attention to their partners.
Depending on the company, partners are a live or die relationship for many vendors. For companies like Microsoft, IBM and Symantec, who rely primarily on indirect sales, they must continue to build a network of partners and religiously work to have their existing partners sell more and more profitably.
Microsoft held its annual partner conference last week and made a number of announcements and launched new products. Some of what went on directly affected small businesses and information workers.
For information workers, those of us who create documents and work on computers all day, Microsoft is a part of most of our lives through Microsoft Office. Search, Communication (ie VOIP and beyond) and software as a service are key issues for information workers and thus for Microsoft.
Search is a very important part of Microsoft’s growth strategy. Corporate search behind the firewall and public, web search outside of the firewall.
Microsoft’s press release, reads Key new areas such as enterprise search have been especially successful: As of today, more than 3,500 partners are enrolled in the Quickstart for Microsoft Search partner program. Quickstart, introduced at WPC 2006, provides partners with an easy way to obtain knowledge, build skills and win early customers with Microsoft search technologies.
Communications is another important area in Microsoft’s strategy and their press release reads Microsoft also envisions increased partner opportunities from its unified communications products, which include Microsoft Office Communications Server 2007 and Microsoft Office Communicator 2007, which will help partners tap into an opportunity estimated to reach more than $45 billion by 2010.
Software as a Service is of course important and one key arm of Microsoft’s SaaS strategy is through Office Live.