Microsoft’s Steve Ballmer earlier this year. (Microsoft photo)

Microsoft is holding its big employee meeting in Seattle this morning, bringing an estimated 15,500 people to KeyArena for annual event that feels like a giant pep rally.

The event this year comes in advance of several major product launches, including Windows 8, Windows Phone 8, the Microsoft Surface tablet and Halo 4 for the Xbox 360. Microsoft traditionally has held the event at Safeco Field, but shifted this year because KeyArena offered more flexibility and avoided the need to work around the Mariners’ schedule.

It’s closed to the public, but that doesn’t necessarily mean there won’t be news. This is the same event where, several years ago, Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer “playfully”pretended to stomp on the iPhone of an employee who tried to take his picture with the Apple device.

Microsoft will live stream the event internally to employees around the world and others who aren’t able to attend. The company is offering shuttle service to the venue for employees and encouraging carpooling to minimize the impact on traffic.

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  • guest

    What a coincidence that on the same day that Steve is proclaiming his confidence in the company and its strategy and trying to convince employees to feel the same, one analyst revised PC growth for all of 2013 down to -1% and another downgraded MS specifically, predicting that W8 will not have the same positive impact as previous upgrades. I guess Steve’s latest comeback prediction that “this would be the most epic year in Microsoft’s history” will have to wait for yet another year.

    Here’s the one way Steve could get an authentic standing ovation from employees today: announce his retirement, effective immediately.

    • guest

      Yeah, but then he’d have to announce a successor, and the VP ranks are pretty thin in that regard at the moment.

      • guest

        The successor would likely come from the President ranks, not the VPs. But I agree there’s no obvious replacement there either. So the board has to go external. Big deal.

    • Christopher Budd

      Links on the downgrade?

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