Microsoft's Worldwide Partner Conference used to be a series of conferences held in various places around the world that showcased the work its global divisions did on behalf of the US-based tech giant. It has since unified its conference into just one large event, held in one area Microsoft serves and operates in, on a yearly basis in the middle of the summer. It was held in Toronto in 2004, and will be again next year. And perhaps that's Microsoft's way of apologizing to the city for fleeing its early-decade SARS outbreak -- or thanking it for uniting many conferences into just one event.
SARS and Microsoft
Toronto was set to host the Canadian edition of the Worldwide Partner\ Conference in 2003 when an outbreak of SARS (Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome) struck the city and forced Microsoft to cancel its plans and move the event -- awkwardly -- to New Orleans. To make up for the lost time and the abandoned location of its Canadian conference, Microsoft combined its partner events for the first time into a single event.
It also forced a rescheduling of the actual conference, moving it from its typical summertime date to one in the middle of October. Of course, that's still summertime in New Orleans, but it was a huge inconvenience for the company and a sizable lost opportunity for the city of Toronto.
The next year, Microsoft brought its Worldwide Partner Conference to Toronto on a promise it made to the people of the city and the officials in its Microsoft Canada Division. The event was successful -- and huge -- with hundreds in attendance and the announcement of new executives within the company.
The Promise of 2012
The company decided to host its 2011 World Partner Conference in Los Angeles this year, but took a moment at the end of that successful edition of its conference to announce the 2012 host city: Toronto, Canada. Cheers and applause erupted from an audience that's already familiar with the perks of a Toronto hosting opportunity. And of course, the Microsoft Canada attendees couldn't have been happier or more proud.
So this time, they're going to go big and go home: they're inviting more partners than ever before, and those partners are planning to bring a larger number of guests along with them than in years past. While the Los Angeles event drew 480 people, organizers for next year's Toronto date are hoping to increase dramatically on those numbers.
At the same time, Microsoft's event organizers are hoping to use the far-reaching size and scope of the show to promote new products and drive both partner and consumer demand for what Microsoft has to offer. And with a promising new operating system potentially hitting the market in 2012, it may be the perfect time for Microsoft to host its largest conference ever.
After all, Microsoft is still trying to undo its reputation as the company that created Windows Vista, and there is no better promotional opportunity than hosting one of the largest conference events in North America -- practically on the border between the continent's two largest and most economically powerful countries.
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