Now in Fifth Year, Microsoft’s Premier Partner Event Celebrates Innovation, Gives Glimpse of Things to Come

REDMOND, Wash., July 2, 2001 — It’s part industry conference, part stylish awards banquet, part celebration. It’s an annual business symposium replete with the who’s who of the high-tech world and mind-bending technology demos. Microsoft Fusion scheduled for July 13-15 in Anaheim, Calif. — is the software company’s premier annual partner event.

Each year, hundreds of CEOs, CIOs, sales directors — decision makers from high-tech vendors large and small — gather to talk with Microsoft about the company’s technology, get a glimpse of the future and find out about the opportunities and support available to partners working with Microsoft.

“Microsoft has always revolved its business around its partners,” says Ian Rogoff, vice president of Microsoft’s Worldwide Partner Group. “Fusion is our chance to bring together the people critical to making our .NET vision a reality. This is the forum for us to let them know what we’re doing today, what we’re planning to do next, and how they can all get involved, contribute and benefit from working with us.”

Fusion has evolved into a must-attend event for distributors, OEM partners, developers, ISPs, systems integrators, ISVs, VARs — anyone whose business depends on or integrates with Microsoft technologies. This year’s event will take place at the Anaheim Convention Center, and will be the first to feature in-conference wireless connectivity, along with a host of speakers and announcements on topics ranging from new platform technologies like Microsoft Office XP and Windows XP to updated partner programs and resources for moving to Microsoft .NET Web services.

But Fusion is more than a round-table forum. Beginning with the first gathering in 1997, the event has played host to discussions of some of the most important technologies and products in Microsoft history. With keynote speeches from Microsoft Chairman and Chief Software Architect Bill Gates, Group Vice President of Microsoft’s Worldwide Sales, Marketing and Services Group Orlando Ayala, Senior Vice President of the Windows Division Brian Valentine, and other high-ranking executives, the event touches on Microsoft technology and strategy at the highest level. Each year, attendees are given an idea of what’s going on with the company, and a preview of things to come. It enables them to prepare and start thinking years in advance.

“It can be very valuable for partners in terms of thinking toward the future,” Rogoff says. “How will this affect our business? Will there be sales opportunities as a result of the Microsoft strategy? How will we need to tune our products to work more effectively with Microsoft technology? We want to help our partners start thinking about these things so they can be prepared to make the most out of what we have to offer. And just as important, we want to hear what they think about our direction.”

Commitment to Partners

Talk to the people preparing for Fusion; read the press material, the Web site, the registration page, and two clear themes emerge: This event is fun, and Microsoft is committed to serving its partners. It’s this commitment aspect — the dedication to working together with solution and service providers of all stripes — that gives Fusion its impetus, according to Rogoff.

Partner focus is an ethic that has its roots in the very beginnings of the event, when it hosted the annual Microsoft Certified Partner Awards. Fusion has since grown well beyond the scope of the awards ceremony, but the Microsoft Certified Partner Awards are still a central part of Fusion, and the conference has retained the air of celebration that came with the award focus.

“The Microsoft Certified Partner Awards not only honor our best-in-class partners, but they encourage other partners to learn from and apply Microsoft technologies in similar ways,” Rogoff says. “Fusion is our venue to highlight the worldwide scope and importance of these partners’ solutions.”

The Microsoft Certified Partner Awards are designed to recognize innovation and unique uses of Microsoft-based technology, regardless of the size or stature of the company involved.

“Microsoft has traditionally selected partners who stand out with regard to innovation, a strong customer focus and solutions that bring the most dramatic results to customers around the world using our newest technologies,” Rogoff says. “These may not be household names, but each of these companies is a real player in the industry because of their creativity and dedication to the technology. Every MCP Award winner embodies the same spirit and inventiveness we value within Microsoft.”

The Evolution of Fusion

Fusion attendance has tripled since 1997, and each year, Microsoft personnel responsible for the event poll attendees, pool their experiences and discuss what they can do better.

Gates’ keynote speech on July 16 is expected to draw more than 4,000 people. Another top-rated speaker, Mahon Khalsa of Franklin Covey, will also return to provide his unique view of the industry.

“As in previous years, Bill will offer a fresh perspective on our technologies,” Rogoff says. “And Mahon is another terrific personality to have up on stage. We expect these addresses will be a real highlight of the show.”

For the first time, attendees equipped with laptops or Pocket PCs with WLAN cards will be able to connect to the network in wireless zones throughout the conference center to review session slides, check their personal session schedules, send and receive e-mail, schedule Structured Networking meetings or simply browse the Internet.

“We’re always looking for ways to keep Fusion vibrant and interesting,” Rogoff says. “Even in these tough economic times, we want our partners to know that we understand our obligation to be there for them. It’s good for us. It’s good for them. It’s good for our mutual customers around the world. We need to keep this dialogue open.”

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