Apart from being one of the biggest launch years in Microsoft history, one of my takeaways from the Microsoft Worldwide Partner Conference (WPC) this year was the emergence of the Microsoft store.

 
Why does the Microsoft Store matter in an increasingly online world?
 
Well, the touch and feel of a brand– making it real– has never been more important to both customers & partners, and Microsoft hasn’t had a voice in the past. No opportunity to put its best foot forward and showcase the best-of-breed technology that it has; to tell the Microsoft story. And now it has– the plans for the Microsoft Stores were revealed to partners at WPC.
 
One of the most important activities of WPC, apart from the knowledge you gain, is always the contacts and networking. Just like previous years, WPC was great for Mimecast and we met many new partners, including a company called Cloud Strategies who focuses on Office 365 migrations.
 
How does this join up you ask?
 
As part of making it real, Cloud Strategies and I recently put on a seminar at the Microsoft Store in Santa Clara. We wanted to showcase Microsoft business technology in the store, and the event was entitled "Work like us", showcasing how we work every day with Microsoft technologies.
 
Steffo from Cloud Strategies introduced how he uses Office 365 to collaborate with colleagues spread out all over the US. We had one of his engineers join us over Lync and the Kinect webcam to demonstrate the power of voice, video, and chat.
 
I talked about cloud in general, specifically how it can help IT teams become more agile in this cost-constrained world, plus the power of the Microsoft hybrid approach and the upcoming release roadmap.
 
I got the normal grilling on cloud security (people still perceive that it isn’t, apparently), but I hope to have won over the detractors playing devil’s advocate. Certainly our track record of nine years in cloud email security helped! People were amazed at the investments that Microsoft is making in the cloud space.
 
I was impressed by how well set up and hospitable the team at the Microsoft Store was. Even more than that, I was impressed how knowledgeable the team was on Microsoft technologies; they’re not your normal retail staff, they’re super business-focused— one of the team is currently studying for an MBA!
 
We must have been doing something right as we’ve been asked back.
 
Ultimately, why does this matter? How you feel about a brand– and, in turn, how the brand makes you feel– has never been more important, and I’m so glad that Microsoft is finally showing its true colours. Our continued investments in WPC continue to pay off as some great conversations were had by all and some business to be done in the future.
 
–Justin​