Last week marked another successful Microsoft Worldwide Partner Conference (WPC).  This year’s conference was held in Los Angeles and gave us five full days to focus on the success of our partners, our customers and the communities that support them. Since 2003, partners from more than 130 countries have benefited from the opportunity to network, build connections and share best practices as we work with them to plan business strategies for the upcoming year. Throughout this year’s conference, our theme, “Winning Together,” was felt prominently by all, extending far beyond WPC and the five days that we had a chance to spend together.

Kicking off the conference was the Day of Giving, where volunteers from Microsoft and partner organizations joined together to support the Boys & Girls Clubs of America (BGCA) and the Magic Johnson Foundation with a carnival-style event that offered games, food and fun. All the proceeds went directly to the two foundations, which provide so much to the community through their public services. By providing safe places for kids to learn and grow, with special emphasis on technology through the BGCA Club Tech programs, both organizations embody this year’s WPC theme. When we help youth to succeed – even against the odds – we all win.

CEO Steve Ballmer took the stage Monday in front of a rousing crowd, delivering big developments on what’s next for Microsoft. For Xbox, our goal this year is to increase the content in the entertainment catalogue from hundreds to millions. How to do that? Improve search functions by bringing Bing to Xbox, enabling you to use your voice to find what you want instantly. Steve also emphasized the strong and successful relationship between Microsoft and its partnership network. For every dollar Microsoft makes, partners make $8.77. Carrying the enthusiasm offstage, he met Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa and Councilmember Jan Perry for a reception, during which Steve was presented with a proclamation that officially made July 10-15, 2011, Microsoft Week in the City of Los Angeles.

On Tuesday, cloud computing was the talk of the town. Senior leaders from Microsoft Corp. discussed how partners could benefit from the transition by helping customers improve agility, focus on business goals and reduce costs. Customers have adopted Office 365 at a rate of more than one every 25 seconds in the two weeks since the cloud-based productivity service was released, and the revenue opportunities appear endless for partners. “By betting on Microsoft’s comprehensive approach to cloud computing, partners can embrace this transformation and build strong and vibrant practices that will advance how business gets done,” said Satya Nadella, president of the Server and Tools Business at Microsoft.

Virgin Founder and Entrepreneur Sir Richard Branson served as the WPC special-guest keynote speaker to an eagerly awaiting audience on Wednesday. He spoke to his life lessons as an entrepreneur, touching upon the continuation of innovation for the future and the importance of trust in company partnerships. With a Virgin Galactic video playing in the background, Branson advised the audience that work needs to be fun, and employers need to be flexible in the way they treat staff, whether they are working from home or job sharing.

With such an exciting, packed week, we are happy to see that the mutual commitment to each other that we know is ever present, not only during WPC, but every day of the year, as we move forward to ensure profitability and long-term business success.

Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer takes the stage for his vision keynote speech.

Richard Branson, founder of the Virgin Group speaks to Jon Roskill, corporate vice president and head of Microsoft Partner Group.