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Microsoft's sometimes beleaguered CEO Steve Ballmer showed a spark of his famous enthusiasm for his job, company, and customers Monday when he gave the opening keynote to 15,000 partners at the software giant's Worldwide Partner Conference in Los Angeles.
Stating that 100 percent of Microsoft's (NASDAQ: MSFT) sales go through them, Ballmer told the group from 125 different countries that the company is "all in" for its partners.
"As go you, so goes Microsoft," Ballmer said.
As is typical with most Microsoft partner conferences, much of the rest of his time onstage alternated between trying to weave a cohesive vision of how the company's diverse product strategies complement each other, intertwined with factoids about successes, and tidbits of future plans, and getting across his message of solidarity with partners.
If he was concerned about calls by some in the investment community for his resignation due to a decade of poor stock performance -- a week and a half before Microsoft announces its fiscal 2011 financial report -- he didn't show it.
Among the factoids, Microsoft has now sold more than 400 million Windows 7 licenses, but that there are still some 300 million Windows XP machines running in business, representing an opportunity to upgrade those systems to Windows 7 before Window 8 arrives -- ostensibly in 2012.
Further, Tami Reller, corporate vice president and chief financial officer of the Windows and Windows Live Division, emphasized that, while Windows 8 will run on hardware that runs Windows 7, that's not true for XP. Additionally, she said, there are only 1,000 days of Microsoft support left for XP.
"Two-thirds of business PCs are still on XP ... more than 300 million desktops that need to be migrated," Reller added.
Reller also announced the beta test of a new version of Microsoft's Intune subscription-based PC management and security tools that will add software distribution and remote tasks support.
Meanwhile, Reller said that the next technical update to Windows 8 will come at Microsoft’s Build conference in mid-September. Although she did not say it in so many words, rumors on the Web abound with reports that Microsoft will release a pre-beta of Windows 8 at that time, and follow up with a public beta in January.