Coming up in July, Microsoft is hosting its Worldwide Partner Conference in Washington DC. The annual event sees big name companies "come together to network, drive business growth and identify new profitability opportunities", and Satya Nadella will be among those speaking about the future strategies of Microsoft. The main focus areas this year are Cloud, Big Data, Mobility & Devices, Enterprise Social, and Leadership, Sales & Marketing, and the topics seem to have caused Microsoft to set up a blacklist of companies that are not permitted to attend.
Just a couple of days ago, ReadWriteWeb was one of several websites to report that the registration page for the conference specified that people from certain companies were not welcome to attend:
"The following companies and their employees and representatives are excluded from pre-purchasing passes for attending and / or participating in WPC 2014 and affiliated events:
It's interesting to note that both Amazon and Google have cloud services that rival Microsoft's Azure. It's possible that this is why these two companies have been "uninvited" from the conference, but there has been an interesting twist.
The conference website no longer mentions any companies as being on an exclusion list.
ReadWriteWeb contacted Microsoft to ask what was happening. Are the blocked companies now able to attend? In short, no. A spokesperson for Microsoft said: "All of the companies from yesterday are still on the list, Microsoft just decided to move them all from the main page into the registration process", going on to explain that "the same companies listed ... are not able to attend".
There are several ways of looking at this. Firstly, this is Microsoft's conference and why should the company not decide who attends? Secondly, if company strategy is to be discussed, it is understandable that rivals would not be welcomed with open arms. However, it does seem odd that a conference about networking and developing profitable partnerships would not involve big names like Google and Amazon -- particularly when Microsoft has collaborated with these companies in the past.
The change in visibility of the ban is intriguing. To start with, Microsoft was at least being upfront about the politics of registration -- now the company looks a little sneaky. Even if the four named companies "are still on the list", what’s to stop representatives attending in an undercover capacity?