I touched down in Houston recently to investigate the opportunities available to us next July in the Toyota Center (our WPC13 host), and also got a first-hand look at how Starbucks utilized the event space for their global leadership conference. 

 
While it was a warm 80 degrees (at night), it’s easy to see why, of all the cities in America, Forbes named Houston the coolest. I enjoyed my time in the Bayou City. And that’s further increased my excitement for the 2013 Worldwide Partner Conference.
 
In addition to our Seattle roots, Microsoft and Starbucks share several parallels. We’ve both undergone recent branding changes that show how our respective brands have evolved. I also learned at their conference that, just like Microsoft, Starbucks is constantly finding ways to be more environmentally responsible. And judging by their noise level throughout the evening, the Starbucks partners (yes, their employees are also partners!) are as passionate about their products as we are about ours! I immediately thought of all the Microsoft employees, partners, and customers whose enthusiasm for products like Windows 8 have been inspiring us to keep innovating.
 
The Toyota Center is going to make an incredible venue for WPC. I can already envision an engaging layout. Our creative team has talked about how we’ll bring the event experience to life—including where and how we’ll set up the MPN Live area and the best way to provide social and community experiences. Much like in Toronto, we’ll create an interactive environment so that the more than 16,000 Microsoft employees and partners will be able to get the most out of the conference as we share our product roadmap and discuss the latest industry changes affecting partners.

A view of Houston, also known as the Bayou City.

 
And I’m sure you’ll enjoy all that Houston has to offer. With so much culture, top restaurants, and great nightlife (yes, I did some hands-on research while I was there—especially pubs), it’s a rather desirable city. I was able to enjoy lots of great city sights. One brew house I visited along Houston’s historic Westheimer Road rivaled some of my favorite pubs back in the UK.
 

After experiencing it first hand, it’s good to know Houston is the kind of city that can handle the loads of inspiration and ideas that are sure to hit in July 2013. Not to mention the thousands of Microsoft partners!
 
After my visit, I flew to Germany where I now am for the Microsoft German Partner Conference, which is underway here in Stuttgart. I’ll share some thoughts later on this. And I’ll be sure to keep you posted on all things WPC 2013.
 
Worth mentioning here, if you already know you’re going to attend, then there’s no reason to wait to register. It will be the absolute lowest price for the conference, and goes through October 14. This pre-register pricing saves you $400.
 
Then, like me, start counting down the days until WPC 2013!
 
Cheers,
 
Karl​