July 19, 2015

Microsoft Worldwide Partner Conference 2015 in Orlando, Florida


Microsoft Worldwide Partner Conference 2015 in Orlando, Florida
Todd Swank's Diary Entry for July 19, 2015


On Saturday night, we celebrated the graduation of our good friend, Alyssa Hornbuckle.  It's so hard to believe she's old enough to be graduating!  I remember her when she was just a little baby and her hair wasn't blue.


The Hornbuckle clan is always fun to be around no matter what the occasion!


We had a rousing game of kickball that was quite competitive until someone threw the ball in the water.  I think it was water.  There was enough algae covering the top to walk on it.  Nobody was willing to test that theory so we sent Avery out on a tree branch to get the ball.


On Sunday, I flew to Orlando, Florida to attend the 2015 Microsoft Worldwide Partner Conference held at the Convention Center.  What a great idea to have a convention in Orlando in July!  It was just a little bit hot while we were there.


Honestly, the weather wasn't that big of a concern since I spent most of the days inside attending keynote presentations and sessions on the latest and greatest offerings from Microsoft.  I'm like a kid in a candy store at these things.


They always bring cool things to these events.  Someone told me this was Dale Earnhardt Jr's race car, but I stood around it for like 20 minutes and I never saw him get in it or get out of it so I'm sure that was a bunch of baloney.



Microsoft always has cool new technology to show off like their new Surface Hub.  It's like a really big tablet you hang on the wall for video conferencing and stuff.  I just want to play Clash of Clans on that thing.


This lady was walking around handing out champagne glasses that were hanging on her dress.  I would have thought a rolling cart would be a lot more convenient, but who am I to judge?



The keynote presentations were very inspiring.  Each day opened with a different musical guest.  Recycled Percussion banged their ladders to open the first day which was a good way to wake up on a Monday.  It kind of rattled your bones a bit to listen to them.


They also had American Authors play on the third day.  They played some of their hits like Go Big or Go Home and Best Day of My Life.  They really rocked.  I grabbed a couple of clips of the performances which you can watch here:



Best of all, the lead singer of American Authors seemed really excited to see me in the audience which was nice.



Microsoft CEO, Satya Nadella, laid out his visions for the coming year for Microsoft and it's partners.  It's always fascinating to hear his views on where the technology world is going.  His focus right now is on Cloud First and Mobile First which is a bit challenging for those of us in the hardware business.  Microsoft is really pushing their resellers to embrace cloud services as opposed to the traditional on premise solutions we've all been selling for years.  It makes total sense, but is still a bit jarring to hear it when we've all been relying on hardware sales for so long.


Windows 10 launches on July 29 so we heard a lot about the plans for the new operating system.  To showcase what a different world we all live in now, Windows 10 will be a free upgrade for anyone who already has Windows 7 or Windows 8 installed.  That would have never happened during my first 20 years selling computers, but the times have changed.


One of the most exciting technologies demonstrated was their new HoloLens augmented reality goggles.  Between augmented reality and virtual reality, the average person has no idea what kind of technology experiences are in store for them in the very near future.  From what I've seen demonstrated, it's going to be absolutely incredible and it's coming soon.


They showed a demonstration of a young lady walking into a room that had been optimized for her viewing experience with video chats, customizable media displays, and even a holographic dog she could interact with.  It's pretty amazing stuff.


Microsoft COO, Kevin Turner, did the keynote on the final day.  He's also fascinating to listen to and he shared his vision for where partners could optimize their business to benefit from Microsoft's new products and programs. More good stuff!   


On Tuesday night, the Microsoft US team took a big group of us to Epcot Center where we had free run of the place until midnight.  I rode Soarin' twice which gave me the opportunity to snap some photos of my flight mates.



I also rode Spaceship Earth a couple of times, but found myself frustrated with it.  This ride used to inspire the heck out of me but apparently they changed the sound track and some of the exhibits a few years ago and I kept finding myself reminiscing about the way it used to be which kind of spoiled the ride.  Darn Disney has to change with the times when I just liked the way things used to be.


Blue was so excited to see me when I came home.