Microsoft chief executive Satya Nadella opened the vendor's Worldwide Partner Conference in his typical thoughtful style today, thanking partners for a "tremendous" year.
Thousands of partners from around the world gathered in Orlando at the event to hear from the CEO and other senior execs about the vendor's plans for the year ahead.
Last month, Nadella (pictured) sent a letter to staff outlining his vision for the coming 12 months, which focused on three key areas: reinventing productivity, building the intelligent cloud, and boosting personal computing. During his keynote address, he explained his thinking behind each element in detail, but not before thanking partners for their commitment over the past 12 months.
"It's been a tremendous year of progress and a tremendous year of transformation," he said. "I want to first start off by expressing my deepest gratitude and thanks to each one of you for driving our collective success, and more importantly, driving the success of our customers. What makes Microsoft unique are the partners in this room – this partner ecosystem.
"Many technologies have come and gone, many business models have changed, customer expectations have changed, but what has remained constant is our commitment to this partnership and WPC is where we come each year to celebrate the success we have together and to reaffirm that commitment. So thank you and it is fantastic to be back at WPC."
This event is Nadella's second WPC as chief executive at Microsoft. In many of his presentations and notes to staff since taking over the top job at the start of last year, he has taken a philosophical view of how Microsoft and its partners are changing the world – something he was keen to stress in today's keynote.
"What is the ambition we collectively share?" he asked the partners gathered at the event. "I want to start with our mission. In fact it was at WPC last year that I talked about this for the first time: empowering every person and every organisation on the planet to achieve more. This has deep meaning for us.
"We care about empowerment. There is no other ecosystem that is primarily and solely built to help customers achieve greatness. It's not about our products... we are focused on helping customers achieve greatness through digital technology. What remains constant is this sense of purpose – the reason why we as an ecosystem exist."
Sharing the SharePoint love
Elsewhere in the day-one keynote address, Microsoft Office chief Julia White attempted to dispell rumours that the vendor is losing interest in its SharePoint technology.
She admitted partners have raised concerns about Microsoft's seemingly diminishing interest in the technology, but insisted this is not the case.
"I want to talk about SharePoint," she told partners. "There seems to have been some question about our commitment to SharePoint over the last year. I've certainly seen our competitors out there creating FUD [fear, uncertainty and doubt] about us not being committed to SharePoint.
"And at a conference a few months ago, I read the 423 pieces of feedback that came in on the keynote and I saw a lot of comments saying 'I didn't hear a lot about SharePoint', 'Julia only said SharePoint a couple of times, what does that mean?'. Today I am here to say: SharePoint, SharePoint, SharePoint, SharePoint, SharePoint. SharePoint! We are absolutely committed to SharePoint.
"We have a fantastic SharePoint 2016 coming out. Rock solid."
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