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Microsoft Pri0

Welcome to Microsoft Pri0: That's Microspeak for top priority, and that's the news and observations you'll find here from Seattle Times technology reporter Matt Day.

July 13, 2011 at 9:02 AM

WPC11: Live blog on Microsoft’s Kevin Turner, Richard Branson speeches

Microsoft’s Worldwide Partner Conference kicks off day 3 Wednesday with speeches from Chief Operating Officer Kevin Turner and UK business mogul Richard Branson.

Turner’s speech is usually a pep talk about out-competing Google, Apple, VmWare, IBM, etc. The guest speaker that follows is Richard Branson.

Microsoft says 12,000 people are attending WPC in Los Angeles this year. I will post live notes from the keynote here.

You can watch the live broadcast at www.digitalwpc.com.

In the meantime, watch this “30 Rock” video of Jack Donaghy giving himself a pep talk before giving a speech to GE.

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9:03 a.m. It’s starting with a video.

9:04 a.m. The Canadian Tenors are on stage.

9:09 a.m. Some trivia while they’re singing. Microsoft Corporate Vice President Jon Roskill said he shaved his beard for the conference because he wanted Microsoft partners to recognize his clean-shaven self.

9:10 a.m. Roskill is on stage now talking about the conference theme of “winning together.”

9:15 a.m. Parade of Microsoft partners across the stage. Canadian Tenors are singing a song from the Vancouver winter Olympics. (That was the riot-free sporting event in Vancouver.)

9:21 a.m. Roskill is back on stage and highlighting resources for companies on the Microsoft Partner Network website, such as the Pinpoint social network, learning resource center and free Microsoft software licenses for partners to run their companies. “Use the cloud to sell the cloud,” Roskill said.

9:28 a.m. Roskill said Microsoft spends $9 billion a year on research and development. It’s unclear whether that’s a drop from past years — when the company has spent $9.5 billion on research. Microsoft reports fiscal 2011 earnings on July 21.

9:30 a.m. Roskill calls Microsoft’s unified communications software Lync — where Skype will be added if Microsoft acquisition is approved — is “Microsoft’s next billion-dollar business.”

9:36 a.m. Roskill tells Microsoft partner companies, “Together we are being massively underestimated.”

9:37 a.m. Roskill is done. Chief Operating Officer Kevin Turner is on stage.

9:42 a.m. Turner repeats the Microsoft emphasis on cloud computing. “We needed our partner ecosystem to come with us to the cloud because the cloud was how we were going to repivot ourselves,” he said.

He said four key Microsoft cloud services are: Office 365, Azure, Dynamics CRM and Windows Intune.

9:44 a.m. Turner, the sales guy, re-words the flexibility angle this way: “We have a cloud that’s right for every customer. If they’re not quite ready to go the cloud it doesn’t matter. We’ll take them when they’re ready.”

9:46 a.m. First jab from Turner goes to Cisco and Microsoft’s competing communication software Lync. “When you think about all the years Cisco has been milking those high margins 75, 85 percent profit margins … Where do we stack in that?”

9:48 a.m. Next up: Salesforce.com, its CEO Marc Benioff and Microsoft’s competing product Dynamics CRM Online. “Now we’ve got this humongous pacifier to stick in the mouth of Marc Benioff called Dynamics CRM Online,” Turner said.

9:50 a.m. Microsoft v. Siebel. “There are no happy Siebel customers in the world,” Turner said.

9:52 a.m. Microsoft has cut research and development spending by $500 million a year. Turner just showed a chart of Microsoft spend of $9 billion in research and development.

9:55 a.m. Microsoft project it will sell 100 million Windows Phones a year with the Nokia partnership, Turner said.

10:06 a.m. Turner is getting going. Now talking Google. First he compared Google Apps to Pong, and Office 365 to Xbox.

“Office 365, ladies and gentlemen, is nothing but a Google butt kicker,” Turner said.

“We don’t scan your email, we’re not snooping your WiFi,” he said.

He also said Google Apps costs more than its price of $50 per user per year. “The whole $50 per customer per year is just the tip of the iceberg,” he said.

10:12 a.m. Turner moving on to Oracle, then Salesforce.com, then VmWare.

10:19 a.m. Turner on Apple v. Microsoft. “It’s your guess as good as mine will they ever unify Mac and iOS? I don’t know that,” he says. “Let’s talk about the Windows strategy. It is really significantly different. Our future at Microsoft is the ability to unify the ecosystem and the user experience.”

10:25 a.m. Microsoft will open 75 more retail stores in the next 2 to 3 years. Microsoft will also open stores internationally outside the US. Currently Microsoft has 11 stores open.

10:28 a.m. Microsoft now showing video of Haiti earthquake relief.

10:35 a.m. Turner is done. Richard Branson is coming up.

10:39 a.m. Richard Branson is on stage after a brief video with extreme close-ups of his face, which ended with him saying, “Screw it, let’s do it.”

10:43 a.m. Roskill asks Branson how he keeps new ventures focused. Branson said, “I’m a great believer that small is beautiful. When we have 100 people running in a company I will move into a company and say I want to see the deputy managing director, deputy sales director, deputy marketing director and say you are now the managing director, you are now the sales director, you are now the marketing director of a new company and split the company. When we had a record company we had 20 companies in 20 different buildings,” he said.

10:45 a.m. Branson on how to motivate a team. “I would go out with the staff, get drunk with them. But because I was getting drunk with them I would take notes as I was talking to them so in the morning I remembered what they had to say. … Make sure you take care of things so they don’t fester.”

10:47 a.m. Branson is talking about flexibility in the workplace for women at a conference where attendance has been 80 percent male in past years. “A lot of us should be a lot more flexible in how we treat our staff. If somebody wants to go on unpaid leave for awhile, welcome it, don’t frown on it. If someone wants to work from home on Mondays and Fridays, welcome it. If people want to job share or want to go part time, don’t think of them as being lazy. The great thing about job share is it will create more jobs and help the economy and it will be good for a company.”

10:52 a.m. Branson on next decade of global development: The growth is happening in India, China, Africa and parts of South America. “Tremendously exciting times for those of us who live in America and Europe, we’ve got to work harder and we’ve got to go and trade in those countries,” he said. “We’ve also got to watch for very high energy prices over the next decade. The more people can get involved in clean energy — it’s incredibly important for the world.”

11:01 a.m. Branson says Virgin has found it challenging to find partners in China. “We haven’t found China that easy and that may well be our fault.”

Branson is building commercial space travel company Virgin Galactic. He says: “It’s one of the most exciting things we’ve ever done. NASA, the governments, are not going to be running the future of space travel. I think private enterprise is. Virgin Galactic is at the forefront of that. A year from now I will be going up with my children into space. We’re very, very close. I think we can bring the price down over the next decade or two where most people in this room ought to be able to become astronauts.”

11:06 a.m. Apparently we’re now moving into the Miss America round of questions. Roskill asks who are three people he would like to have dinner with. Branson said, “Sir Francis Drake. Jesus Christ, some of religious leaders of the past who can explain to people running governments today that they didn’t mean what they think they said. And I think Cleopatra would be quite nice as well.”

11:12 a.m. Branson, in response to a question about the importance of branding, talked about News Corp and the scandal around its UK newspaper hacking a murder victim’s voice mails. “Your reputation is all you have in life. Your personal reputation and the reputation of your brand. If you do anything that damages that reputation, you can destroy your company. In the UK right now, News International are on their knees … The way they’ve run some of their newspapers has been quite questionable for a long time and they are certainly getting their comeuppance right now. It’s going to be very hard for that brand to ever recover. The knock on their other unbranded products like Sky and other interests around the world will be considerable.” (In the US, News Corp owns the Wall Street Journal, Fox News, Dow Jones and the New York Post.)

11:16 a.m. Branson is done talking.

11:22 a.m. WPC 2012 is going to be in Toronto. The Day 3 morning keynotes are over.

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