As implied by the name, a major aspect of this new Microsoft partner network is the community aspect. It aims to make it easier for partners to not only speak to Microsoft and prospective customers, but other partners with whom they can exchange knowledge and possibly even collaborate.
"Microsoft Pinpoint is an online community site for connecting customers and partners, launched recently in the UK," said Barclay. "It also helps them network with each other and find partners with complementary skills, in order to collectively supply end-to-end solutions. I see that as a hugely important part of the role of vendors."
There was even a kind of ‘speed-dating' event at the conference, in which attending partners, including 350 from the UK, were able to spend half an hour with each other, exchange business cards and promise to keep in touch.
Barclay said there will be a major UK partner event later this year, probably around the time of the Windows 7 launch, but that the date hadn't been confirmed yet.
The other big area of interest, said Barclay, was Microsoft's software-plus-services offering and the Azure platform that allows ISVs to develop and migrate applications to the cloud.