As we gear up for the year ahead, now is a good time to look back at a few signature events that took place in the San Francisco/Silicon Valley area. Many of the latest tech trends emanate from the Silicon Valley, and while Microsoft is headquartered in Redmond, Wash., it is important to keep in mind the level and length of our presence and involvement in the area.

From our retail store opening at Valley Fair and events for startups to a preview of the Windows Store and a discussion on Microsoft’s cloud strategy, the company supports a broad range of initiatives in the industry and community. Microsoft has been in Silicon Valley for more than 30 years and has more than 2,400 employees in the area.

Mobile Acceleration Week for Startups

Startups in the mobile space are a driving force of innovation and are part of the reason the tech industry is thriving. Through the Microsoft BizSpark program, we provide young companies access to a portfolio of products and tools, business and technology guidance, and networking — all free of charge. Mobile Acceleration Week took place Oct. 31 through Nov. 4, hosting 11 mobile startups and providing a hands-on experience developing apps for the Windows Phone 7.5 platform. With on-site technical and business assistance from Microsoft, as well as third-party support from Microsoft partners, such as iLink Systems and Motivity Labs, the event brought together a great group of entrepreneurs looking to advance their businesses. In addition to development workshops, the week featured educational sessions on user interface and user experience, marketing opportunities, Windows Marketplace for Mobile, and networking opportunities with local investors and OEMs. Participating startups in the BizSpark program include Chute, CitySourced, CleverSense, Echoecho, InTooch, News360, News Republic, Rdio, Skedi, Stitcher and WNM Live.

Valley Fair Retail Store Grand Opening a Success

Continuing to execute on its retail strategy, on Nov. 10, Microsoft opened its 13th retail store and the first in the San Francisco Bay Area at Westfield Valley Fair in Santa Clara, Calif., just in time for the holidays. To help celebrate the grand opening, Hall of Fame quarterback and San Francisco 49ers legend Joe Montana excited fans by challenging them to video games on Kinect for Xbox 360. With consumer products including Windows 7, Windows Phone 7.5 and Kinect for Xbox 360 — and top-notch technical service — the Microsoft Store brings together some of the best products from across the company in a colorful and friendly environment. Jolie O’Dell of VentureBeat created a video tour of her experience at the store and wrote, “Microsoft has worked hard to achieve better design, better experiences and more consumer-friendly fun with business-friendly computing power than ever before.” The store opening attracted more than 1,200 people for the curtain drop on the vibrant new space.

Joe Montana plays Kinect for Xbox 360
Hall of Fame quarterback and San Francisco 49ers legend Joe Montana plays Kinect for Xbox 360 with excited fans to celebrate the grand opening of the first Bay Area Microsoft Store at Westfield Valley Fair in Santa Clara, Calif., Thursday, November 10, 2011.

Social Innovation Summit 2011

Leaders from nonprofits, nongovernmental organizations, corporations and government were joined by Microsoft’s Dan'l Lewin, corporate vice president for Strategic and Emerging Business Development, Sid Espinosa, director of Corporate Citizenship and mayor of the City of Palo Alto, and Akhtar Badshah, senior director of Global Community Affairs, to discuss the challenges in the roles they play in advancing social causes and enabling change in society at the Social Innovation Summit 2011 on Nov. 30. Some other speakers at the event included Charles Best, founder and CEO of Donorschoose.org; Wyclef Jean, musician, record producer, politician and founder of the Yéle Haiti Foundation; Jonathan Greenblatt, special assistant to the President and director of the White House Office of Social Innovation and Civic Participation; and Wilson To, an MS/Ph.D. candidate at the University of California-Davis and a previous participant of Microsoft’s Imagine Cup student competition for the Lifelens project.

Windows Store Surprise Preview

Windows 8 has generated tremendous industry and enthusiast excitement and is arguably the most important release of Windows in a decade. To continue developer momentum coming out of BUILD, this December, the company offered a preview of the Windows Store in San Francisco for developers, tech enthusiasts and influentials interested in preparing for Windows 8. The event served to unveil the Windows Store economic and policy terms, set expectations for Windows 8 Beta timing and invite developers to submit beta apps through the First Apps Contest. As a result, the team was able to give prescriptive guidance to developers, reiterate and build upon the developer opportunity, and proactively set expectations for what is next. You can catch the highlights through this video preview.

Kurt DelBene and Satya Nadella, Cloud Strategy Media Dinner

The move to the cloud is a critical strategic bet for the company, and to bring greater clarity and depth to Microsoft’s strategy, progress and challenges, we held a media dinner on Dec. 7 hosted by Kurt DelBene, president of the Microsoft Office Division, and Satya Nadella, president of the Server and Tools Business at Microsoft. More than a dozen journalists in San Francisco joined Kurt and Satya to talk about Microsoft’s vision and strategy for cloud computing. Cade Metz of Wired chronicled his take on the discussion and wrote, “With a company like Microsoft — a massive corporation entering its fourth decade — change often comes in small steps, and old reputations die hard. But as the world moves to the proverbial cloud — pushing both applications and their underlying infrastructure onto the Web — Microsoft is clearly moving the same way.” Microsoft News Center had a chance to sit down and talk with Kurt and Satya to hear what’s new, what’s unchanged and what their businesses have in common, and Kurt said, “… It is about Microsoft’s breadth of offerings, our critical business features and our hybrid approach that allows customers to embrace the cloud on their terms.”

Posted by Doug Free
Director of Public Relations & Corporate Communications, Silicon Valley, Microsoft