Have you had trouble getting a cab in DC for the last few days? Were you amazed at the number of Netherlands fans that suddenly appeared wearing bright orange around Chinatown on Sunday? Are you confused why thousands of self-described geeks descended on the Verizon Center yesterday even though no games were scheduled? Well, you can put it all down to the Microsoft Worldwide Partners Conference (WPC 2010). I attended their Houston event in 2008 (Microsoft was a client at my previous firm) and was blown away by both the scale of the event, as well as the huge number of international visitors it attracts. I can only imagine that the DC event will be even bigger and even more enticing to international Microsoft partners. Microsoft is estimating the crowd at almost 13,000 people.
A “Microsoft Partner” is someone who either helps develop and expand Microsoft products or who sells/recommends Microsoft products and solutions to third party customers. Microsoft Partners are often very successful small businesses and entrepreneurs in almost every country around the globe. The WPC 2010 Conference is an opportunity for Microsoft to thank and reward these Partners and to provide training and sneak-peaks at new Microsoft initiatives and products.
This year, the faithful will pay homage to “the cloud” (I will leave an explanation on what “the cloud” is to one of Ian Scott’s future posts). I actually got caught-up in a rendition of “oh-cloud, oh-cloud, oh-cloud, oh-cloud” sung in the style of a traditional soccer chant, during a world-cup final watch party at Irish Channel in Chinatown. The chant was orchestrated and filmed for Steve Ballmer’s intro at the Verizon Center launch. Microsoft also gave out hundreds of bright orange WPC branded polo-shirts to the bar crowd who obligingly supported the Netherlands (hence the sea of orange wearing soccer fans around Chinatown on Sunday). I am not sure if I made it on screen, but listening to NPR this morning I could hear the distinctive chants of the geeky wannabe hooligans who surrounded me at the bar.
So, if you see a WPC 2010 attendee wandering aimlessly around DC, say hello and point them back in the direction of the Convention Center. Or, if my memory serves correctly from Houston – point them to the nearest bar and they will likely ask you to come along for a drink or several as well.