Chief Executive Steve Ballmer and his top managers take a half-day to explain where the world's biggest software company is going, to a generally friendly audience.
This year things didn't go quite according to plan.
"Microsoft's been playing defense for the last 10 years," said the former executive. "They are trying to protect existing revenue streams rather than taking risks. New revenue streams put the old ones at risk, and those old ones support thousands of people in the company. It's a difficult situation to be in."