Today, we are at Microsoft’s Worldwide Partner Conference (WPC) in Washington, D.C. This is one of my favorite events of the year because it gives us an opportunity to connect with our partners and gather invaluable feedback on their experiences working with us, our platform and productivity scenarios. It’s also a unique opportunity for our partners to come together and share how they are using Microsoft technologies to create innovative solutions.

This year is an important one for WPC, following a lot of big changes across our company and across the industry. The conversations I have been having with partners lately have largely centered on mobility. The rise of mobility is presenting businesses, from small organizations to large enterprises, with a lot of new and innovative opportunities – and along with that, many complex challenges. Our partners are rising to the occasion; and to support them, enabling mobility and mobile scenarios has been a top priority for the company – and undoubtedly for the Windows and Windows Phone business specifically. This is why we are continuing to make investments in several key areas, including business-ready devices, mobile productivity services, line of business apps and enterprise-grade management systems, all which enable new mobile scenarios.

Interesting partner stories always surface at WPC and one that I am really excited about this year is iRiS Software Systems and InterKnowlogy (finalist for Windows 8 app developer partner of the year). Both are working together to help luxury hotel company, Mandarin Oriental Hotel Group reimagine the customer experience at its worldwide properties. Mandarin Oriental has piloted Microsoft Surface Pro tablets in four of its award-winning locations in London, Washington DC, Las Vegas and Tokyo. The in-room tablets feature a custom Windows 8.1 Start screen and immersive touch apps that allow guests to quickly and easily request hotel services such as housekeeping, laundry and in-room dining. They chose Windows for this solution for a few reasons, one being that they can quickly and easily wipe the tablet with our Remote Wipe functionality. For more information on Mandarin Oriental’s deployment of Windows on Surface tablets, read the Spotlight news story here.

Also at WPC, we’re working with our OEM partners to ensure that they have the knowledge and access to the right technology resources to support their customers’ business needs. With that in mind, I want to share with you a couple of exciting partner announcements:

  • Partnering with HP and Intel, we announced the Best for Business Mobility Program. This effort combines HP’s ecosystem of business-optimized tablets and convertible PCs, powered by Intel processors for increased reliability and processing power, with Microsoft productivity solutions and vertical apps to help businesses redefine workflows, enhance productivity and deepen customer connections.
  • To continue driving unique, end-to-end IT solutions, Fujitsu announced their new 8-inch tablet this week and shared how they are leveraging Project Siena, Microsoft’s new tool that allows business experts with Excel and PowerPoint skills to create powerful, custom mobile apps. Recognizing the opportunity to quickly deliver value to customers, Fujitsu has trained over 70 developers and 100 sales personnel to utilize the solution for simple integration into overall business mobility processes. This puts Fujitsu in an advanced position to meet customer expectations for a flexible and rapid development of commercial apps on a mobile device.

If you haven’t seen much about Project Siena, I encourage you to check it out. I spoke about it today at WPC and we demonstrated some of its functionality. It’s an impressive tool and very relevant in today’s business landscape. Nearly every customer we speak with has an idea for a mobile app that could transform their business processes or activities. Project Siena is a pure reflection of our mission to reinvent productivity, empowering people and organizations to bring app ideas and concepts to life. As we first shared with you at the end of last year, Project Siena helps easily translate those imagined ideas into full, functioning apps.

Yesterday, we released Beta 3 of Project Siena, a major addition that will make it even easier for business experts and business analysts to build powerful, service-connected apps. The Beta3 includes social and communication functionality, and integration with popular web services, all just a click away. Also new in Beta3, IT will have the ability to bring in an even greater spectrum of custom services. I encourage you to visit the Project Siena website to learn more about how it can help your company easily build Windows 8 apps, and download the beta version of Project Siena today.

In the last few months, we have seen some great examples of Project Siena in action. Notably:

  • Toro, a leading provider of innovative turf, landscape, rental and construction equipment, saw Project Siena just four weeks before a NASCAR race at the Talladega Speedway. Within days, they were able to conceive and create an impactful app that allowed attendees to explore and understand the Toro product catalog, with content and features crafted specifically for the race event.
  • Another example is Persistent Systems, a global company specializing in software products and technology services. Their business analysts and architects use Project Siena to impact app discovery conversations with customers. With Project Siena, they can convert ideas into highly-functional prototypes right as the customer conversation is happening, helping validate and refine the ideas to happen almost immediately.
  • Aditi Technologies is a cloud led customer experience design partner, who uses Project Siena for its solution consulting efforts. Using Project Siena to quickly create apps in near-real time gives Aditi’s team the ability to build products and solutions for user demos and prototype walkthroughs. This has helped them shorten sales cycles and bring customer experiences to life faster.

Our partners are really doing some incredible things this year. Tomorrow, Tony Prophet – our new Windows marketing chief – will take the stage to talk more about the Windows and Windows Phone vision and opportunity. Satya Nadella will cap the conference, addressing partners for the first time as the CEO of Microsoft. Both are available for live streaming via Digital WPC.