As The VAR Guy heads to this year's Microsoft Worldwide Partner Conference in New Orleans, he looks forward to quizzing four key Microsoft executives about the company's cloud, software as a service (SaaS), small business and netbook/OEM strategies. Take a look, and submit your own questions to The VAR Guy (if you have them) for Microsoft.

First, a little background. The VAR Guy is getting old. Or as Harrison Ford stated in Raiders of the Lost Ark, "It's not the years, honey, it's the mileage."

Many of The VAR Guy's early sources at Microsoft -- Jim Allchin, yada yada yada, and Rich TongĀ  -- have long since left the company. So now, The VAR Guy looks forward to quizzing several other Microsoft executives about the company's various business strategies.

Key players The VAR Guy will be tracking include:

1. Cindy Bates, VP, US Partner Group: Bates is perhaps best known for beging GM of Microsoft US Small Business. No doubt, Windows Small Business Server has a loyal following in the channel. But how will Microsoft connect the dots between SBS and emerging cloud services -- plus online storage and online security? The VAR Guy looks forward to hearing where Bates sees Microsoft's small business efforts going next -- both on premise and online.

2. Steven Guggenheimer, corporate VP, OEM Division: Guggenheimer has been a key voice in Microsoft's netbook strategy. One week after Google surprised the world by announcing Google Chrome OS for netbooks, The VAR Guy looks forward to hearing Guggenheimer's reaction and his vision for where Microsoft's OEM business is heading next.

3. Prashant Ketkar, director of product marketing for cloud infrastructure services: Back in March at the Mix09 conference, Ketkar described Microsoft's Windows Azure cloud computing strategy. But The VAR Guy must concede: He needs to hearĀ  more about the basics.
  • What is the most basic business purpose of Windows Azure -- for partners and end customers?
  • How does Windows Azure differ from the Microsoft Business Productivity Online Suite? In other words, where does one end and the other begin?
4. Eron Kelly, senior director, Information Worker Enterprise Services Marketing: Kelly's title is non-descript. At first glance, the term "information worker" doesn't really tell you where Kelly focuses his efforts. But Kelly is the person who can give The VAR Guy a clearer picture on Microsoft's Business Productivity Online Suite (BPOS), which includes Exchange Online, SharePoint Online, and several other SaaS applications.

If you have questions for those and other Microsoft executives, send The VAR Guy an email (TheVARguy@NineLivesMediaInc.com). Or, post a comment below.

And keep your eyes open. Once The VAR Guy lands in New Orleans, coverage of the Microsoft Worldwide Partner Conference will shift into overdrive.

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