Wow, what a couple of days it's been at the Visio Partner Conference!  The level of excitement has been fantastic, and the new data features have been received very well.  Steve Ballmer started things off with the typical Ballmer enthusiasm Thursday morning with a joint Visio and Project Keynote.  He featured a great demo from a partner called INS that is working on a Sarbanes-Oxley compliance solution.  It deeply integrated Visio 12 and SharePoint and took advantage of our new data capabilities.  Compliance is a huge amount of work for corporations today, and a big part of this requires visualizing all of the processes in the company in order to guarantee that they are appropriately managed.  Visio plays a major role here, and solutions such as the INS one that handle end-to-end management of the compliance work are a logical next step.

I presented an overview of all of the features we are doing in Visio 12 as well as a deep dive into the Data Link and Data Graphics features.  So many partners have come up and talked to me afterwards about how they can't wait to take advantage of these new features -- it's really going to make a lot of their scenarios so much easier to do.  The amount of response has really floored me.  We spent the rest of Thursday giving more details of Visio 12, and on Friday, a series of presentations on developer issues and partner solutions.  My boss, Richard Wolf, gave a keynote Friday, focusing on the partner opportunity in three top growth areas:  IT, Business Process Excellence (which includes compliance) and Information Reporting and Analysis. 

I think the overriding theme at the conference is "Visio is back".  Any lingering doubts people may have had about Microsoft's commitment to Visio have disappeared as everyone saw how much work we have been putting into this next release and the level of enthusiasm that is on display here.  I saw tons of cool solutions built on Visio in all different areas:  information reporting diagrams showing sales statistics overlaid on top of retail store layouts, partners who have been working with Beta 1 and can already auto generate data connected network diagrams from MOM and SMS data, even entire sugar processing plants visualized in Visio!  And too many others to name here.  To everyone who attended and those who presented -- thanks for making this such a big success!