Microsoft talks cloud, mobile and Windows 8 at big conference in L.A.


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Microsoft Corp. is doing a little show business in L.A.

The Redmond, Wash., software giant is firing up the spotlight downtown this week for its annual conference of business partners. The event, held at the convention center, has attracted about 15,000 attendees, and boosters say it will bring tens of millions of dollars in revenue to the city.

Microsoft Chief Executive Steve Ballmer kicked off the event Monday with a keynote that touched on Microsoft’s current strategy, which is largely focused on moving its business into the computing cloud.


‘It’s going to be one of the most beneficial transitions for all users of information technology around the planet,’ Ballmer said, noting that Microsoft has more than 40,000 partners that identify themselves as cloud-ready.

Last month Microsoft unveiled Office 365, a cloud-based version of its popular office software.

Ballmer also hyped the company’s mobile handset offering: Windows Phone. Though he acknowledged that Microsoft hadn’t yet won many mobile customers with the product (‘We went from very small to very small’), he said the offering had plenty of potential. For one thing, he said, mobile phone giant Nokia cast its lot with the Windows Phone.

‘Nokia -- who had a choice this year to bet on themselves, Android or Windows Phone -- said for their bet-the-company strategy, they’re going with Windows Phone,’ he said.

Microsoft also touched on Windows 8, the next version of its popular operating system, slated for a 2012 release. Windows 8 will be tailored to work on the smaller computing chips found in smartphones and tablet computers, as well as traditional PCs.

‘Windows 8 is a true reimagining of Windows, from the chip to the interface,’ said Tami Reller, who leads business and marketing for Microsoft Windows. ‘We designed Windows 8 from the ground up to be excellent for touch-only tablets -- and to work well with the keyboard and mouse.’


Later Monday, Ballmer was slated to host a reception for Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa and other L.A. city officials for the presentation of a ‘Microsoft Week in L.A.’ certificate.


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-- David Sarno