Today at the Microsoft’s annual Worldwide Partner Conference (WPC) in Houston, Texas – Microsoft executives took the stage to discuss the company’s devices and services approach with our partners. Tami Reller, Windows CMO and CFO, talked about how Windows is the foundation that people trust and how it’s powered by high-value services – like Xbox, SkyDrive, and Skype – bringing customers a great experience across all their devices.
Tami reiterated the momentum we’re seeing today with Windows 8, including our earlier announcement about 100 million licenses sold. Tami also mentioned that we now have more than 20 million enterprise evaluations and that Windows 8 has logged 60 billion hours of use. Additionally, she mentioned that new customer activation continues at a consistent pace.
Tami also made a few announcements.
She announced that Windows 8.1 RTM will be available for OEM partners in late August. This means OEMs will be able to get the RTM bits and begin preparing devices with Windows 8.1 just in time for the holidays! We’ll have more details to share in the coming months for consumers and other customers on how to get Windows 8.1. As you have heard, Windows 8.1 is an update that refines the vision of Windows 8. Two weeks ago, we announced the Windows 8.1 Preview for people to try out– if you have not already, check it out and experience the new features and improvements first-hand.
Jensen Harris joined Tami on stage to show off Windows 8.1. In his demo, he showed off some pretty cool new features and functionality, including how Windows 8.1 is optimized to work great on small-form-factor devices and portrait view. He also demoed the Reading List app that lets you share articles from the web and content from other apps to read later which roams with you across your Windows devices through the cloud courtesy of SkyDrive. And with 20 billion searches on done via Windows PCs each month in the U.S. alone, Jensen highlighted the huge opportunity to build a great search experience into Windows and showed the new search experience in Windows 8.1 which is powered by Bing. He also demoed a different kind of search for music integrated with Xbox Music where you can share a webpage to the Xbox Music app where it “scrapes” the webpage for mentions of songs to create a playlist for you based on the music mentioned on a webpage. And finally, Jensen demoed for the first time new technology built into Windows 8.1 called Miracast that streams HD video and audio over Wi-Fi to another display like a TV. With Surface Pro, he essentially turned a TV into a whiteboard with the OneNote app. You can watch Jensen’s Windows 8.1 “first look” demo from a few weeks ago here.
Tami also announced that in January 2014, we will be launching the User Experience Design Competency. This competency will provide a way for partners to train their designers and get recognized for their expertise with the Microsoft Design Language. You can read more here on the Windows App Builder Blog for more on the new User Experience Design Competency for partners.
Finally, she announced a brand new program called TouchWins – our new commercial channel incentive for featured Windows devices. Through this program, we will provide incentives to authorized distributor and reseller partners who sell Featured PCs and tablets with Windows 8 Pro and touch. Partners will be able to find out more about this program here.
For more on the partner opportunity with Windows 8 and Windows 8.1, stay tuned for a blog post later today on the Windows for your Business Blog from Erwin Visser. And for more from WPC this week, head on over to the WPC website.