It was hot and humid in Houston Texas as it normally is in July. I didn’t much notice since I spent the majority of my time the week of July 8th indoors, in a nice, climate controlled, conference center attending Microsoft’s 2013 Worldwide Partner Conference.

This was a first experience for me. I’ve attended several other Microsoft conferences in the past, and my initial impressions of WPC were much the same, only perhaps on a grander scale. There were 15,000 partners in attendance in addition to all of the Microsoft employees and representatives there to meet with us. The booths were row after row of innovative devices, software, hardware and services companies, all building a portion of their business on the backs of what Microsoft has assembled as the foundation.

All of that was very fun and exciting to be a part of, but the true value in the conference for me was in seeing and hearing first hand, the long term strategy Microsoft is putting in place, and I can tell you, they make a good case for why they may be only getting started.

That may sound funny from a company with 90,000+ employees and has been around for 35+ years; an eternity for a tech company!

Microsoft started with a vision back in 1975 of putting a PC on every desk, and now their vision follows that grand idea of their software and services being attached to every device! You may have heard that Microsoft is now a devices and services company, and that was never more evident to me than during the keynote presentations and follow up discussions during the week.

As Steve Ballmer put it in his keynote speech,

“Windows defined a class of devices called the PC. And we are certainly incredibly determined to have Windows define new classes of devices, tablets, phones, two-in-ones, living room devices, defined by Windows as a piece of software, but purchased and implemented by our partners as tested software. So we’re in the transformation from delivering our software value one way to delivering it in a new form…”

Providing these experiences was at the core of what I heard that week, and in Microsoft’s eyes is the differentiator between them and what the other tech giants have to offer. They provide a secure, familiar and trusted platform to power devices of all shapes and sizes. Throw in additional applications and services, and a little bit of the cloud, and you have an experience that is unmatched and is capable of becoming an endless array of end-to-end business solutions.

So, is Microsoft just getting started? If you measure the opportunity by the number of projected devices to attach to, then yes! According to IDC:

“Going forward, IDC expects that tablet shipments will surpass desktop PCs in 2013 and portable PCs in 2014. In 2013, worldwide desktop PC shipments are expected to drop by 4.3% and portable PCs to maintain a flat growth of 0.9%. The tablet market, on the other hand, is expected to reach a new high of 190 million shipment units with year-on-year growth of 48.7% while the smartphone market is expected to grow 27.2% to 918.5 million units.”

When you add this all up, it means huge opportunity for both Microsoft and CDW.microsoftwpc

Time will tell how this all will unfold, but one thing is sure.  CDW will be there, pivoting with our customers and our partners to deliver high value experiences.