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110 Things We’ve Learned From Microsoft’s Partner Conference

1. The Cloud Means EverythingMicrosoft CEO Steve Ballmer made it clear that the cloud is key to the future. Ballmer discussed Windows Azure and Office 365, the cloud-based productivity suite the company launched. All the while, he made it clear to his company’s partners that if they want to work with Microsoft, they will need to embrace the cloud as much as it has.

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2. Office 365 Is Vastly ImportantBallmer’s focus on Office 365 underlines the importance of that solution to Microsoft’s plans in the coming years, and could very well be a starting point for many more services in the years to come. Keep a close eye on Office 365.

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3. Microsoft Won’t Give Up On Windows Phone 7On Day 2 of the Microsoft Partner Conference, the software giant made it clear that Windows Phone 7’s troubles don’t mean the death knell for the platform. Quite the contrary, Microsoft tried to show its partners that the platform was just starting to get going, and they should expect bigger and better things from it in the future.

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4. Microsoft Still Can’t Stand Mac OS XDuring his keynote address, Ballmer took aim at Windows competitors, Mac OS X and Linux. He compared Windows 7’s 350 million licenses to those of its competition, trying to make it clear to partners that they had hitched their futures to the right company. But along the way, Ballmer also showed that there is no love lost between Microsoft and Apple. And in the coming years, that contentious relationship might play into Microsoft’s decision-making.

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5. But It Believes Windows Will Stay DominantMicrosoft believes Windows will reign supreme in the years ahead. With Chrome OS’ launch earlier this year and Mac OS X Lion launching soon, Google and Apple might have something to say about that. But for now, Microsoft seems confident that Windows will be tops for years to come.

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6. It’s Not Ready to Divulge Much On Windows 8Largely missing from Microsoft’s Partner Conference was an in-depth conversation on Windows 8. Instead, Microsoft focused more of its time on getting partners to push Windows 7 on companies and the cloud. It was rather unfortunate. The Microsoft Partner Conference seemed like an ideal place for discussions on Windows 8, but the software company didn’t take the bait.

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7. Ballmer Is ConsistentRather than make rash judgments and take too many risks, Ballmer continues to beat the familiar drums that have made his company wildly profitable. Even during difficult times with Windows Phone 7, he continues to trudge on with his strategy. That might eventually come back to haunt Ballmer, but for now, he seems committed to staying the course on all of his company’s many products.

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8. Windows XP Has Become A ProblemIt wasn’t so long ago that Microsoft was touting the importance of companies adopting Windows XP. Now that platform has become a bit of a problem for the software giant. So many companies are still using Windows XP, resisting Windows 7. Will Microsoft and partners be successful in getting them to upgrade? Time will tell.

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9. Google Is A Going ConcernDuring his keynote, Ballmer discussed Bing and the future of his company’s search engine. And during his talks on Office 365 and Windows, without mentioning Google, Ballmer seemed to indicate that the software giant had the search company on its radar. Google has been able to challenge Microsoft in several markets, and the software giant must find a place to stop those inroads.

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10. This Is the Same Old MicrosoftWhen it’s all said and done, it seems that Microsoft hasn’t really changed much. It’s still heavily focused on software, and it targets the enterprise. Microsoft won’t ever be the innovator that Apple is on the client side, but then again, it doesn’t have to be. It’s clear from the Microsoft Partner Conference that the Redmond-based company is ready to continue to capitalize on what it’s all about.