On Thursday, September 19, Microsoft will be holding what's likely its most closely watched Financial Analyst Meeting (FAM) to date.
This year's FAM is different from FAMs past, in that it's open to Wall Street analysts only. We press types who were granted entrance to past FAMs -- and were subject to a a bunch of special rules (like no reporting directly on anything said outside the main presentations) -- are not allowed to attend this year.
Most, if not all, of the five-hour (or so) FAMfest, which is taking place on Microsoft's Redmond campus headquarters, will be Webcast on the Microsoft Investor site.
The event starts at 4 pm ET/1 pm PT. On this year's speaker list are Microsoft's outgoing (in both senses of the word) CEO Steve Ballmer; Chief Financial Officer Amy Hood; and Chief Operating Officer Kevin Turner. I've heard there also will likely be an engineering panel, which will feature most if not all of the newly appointed Executive Vice Presidents of the four Engineering units at Microsoft. That means: Terry Myerson, head of the new OS division; Qi Lu, head of applications and services; Satya Nadella, head of enterprise and cloud; and Julie Larson-Green, head of devices and Studios.
There was no Microsoft FAM in 2012. But this year, the company decided to resurrect FAM and use it as a way to articulate its new financial reporting structure, post the recently announced company-wide reorg. We should learn tomorrow at least some of the details as to how Microsoft will be reporting its fiscal results, starting on October 24, when Microsoft will report results of its first quarter for fiscal 2014.
Before 2012, Microsoft held FAMs every year. In 2011, Microsoft held FAM during its first Build conference. No one from Windows client presented, but Steven Sinofsky, the head of Windows client, did field questions from the stage.
At this year's FAM, there will no doubt be plenty of questions about Microsoft's recently announced plans to buy the Nokia handset division. I wouldn't be surprised to hear questions -- and probably relatively few answers -- about the Microsoft Board's progress on narrowing down the possible candidates for a new CEO.
Maybe there will be questions about Microsoft management's insistence that it needs to play in both the devices and services space, rather than just focus on its current enterprise strengths. (If there are questions on that front, we've already heard the answers.) And maybe we'll even hear an analyst or two ask about the rumored Office for iPad. (Word is Office for iPad is still alive and still coming.) And no doubt there will be questions, yet again, from some analysts who think Microsoft would be best served by selling off Bing and/or Xbox. Microsoft has increasingly making the case that neither of these moves -- especially a Bing sell-off -- make sense.
Mostly, I'm expecting to hear quite a bit from the Microsoft speakers at this year's FAM on how and why Microsoft has reorg'd the way it has. (Short answer: To better compete with the increasingly walled gardens being erected by Apple and Google.)
I'll be blogging and tweeting the FAMfest on September 19. So check back here, early and often, if you want the latest.