After spending a week at TechEd there are thoughts and opinions. I had no idea what to expect, outside of the chance to learn and do some networking. What I found was that, more and less.
TechEd is supposed to be the premier Microsoft Tech conference. The idea is to cram information into 4 days, to show off upcoming technologies, and to allow direct access to the people who know the technologies the best. I was hoping to be able to say it was all that, but the reality is that TechEd does fall short of those ideas in a number of ways. Do not get me wrong, TechEd is worth going to, but be aware of expecting too much.
Companies always have an agenda, and Microsoft is no different. TechEd at times seemed like a huge propaganda machine, even in the sessions and seminars. The comments about Windows 8 and how speakers got special permission to use it in their seminars got old. The fact is that while they had a full keynote on Windows 8, the never showed integration into a corporate domain, how it works hand in hand with Server 2012, nor why it belongs in the corporate environment. Here you have the IT folks, the ones who can help push your product, if they like it, and you are not giving them what they need. It was nice to see some beta app from SAP but, that is not the way to present to the people who want to know how difficult will the migration process be.
Lets move to the crux of what TechEd is about, learning. The seminars/sessions overall were rather informative, if not a bit short. 75 minutes per session is not a lot of time to cover the topics in much detail. Things get skipped over, glanced at or just muddled. This was most evident in the Exam Cram sessions where there really wasn’t much information given out except for what would be the opening of any study guide for those exams. I felt bad for the MCTs who really were not given a chance to shine and really prepare the people at the seminar in any meaningful way.
The other sessions I went to gave information in a more condensed form most of the time, and were interesting overall. Still they felt a bit rushed by the end as the speakers wanted to talk and interact more, would find themselves doing that and have to squish things together at the end. Mind you these speakers (Paula, Mark and Mark) were amazing, knew their stuff and were really teaching and showing us how to do what they were talking about. The amount of information I got was amazing, but it gets so condensed that one barely has time to process it before the next item on the agenda gets hit. I’m lucky if I can remember 10% of what I was shown. Luckily most of the session I went to are up in video format on the TechEd website (which really only works on 32Bit IE) so I can go back to them.
The networking part of TechEd was the best. Between meeting people in sessions, to the after hours shindigs that were going on, you had plenty of chances and opportunities to make new connections and friends.
TechEd is a great idea, and is worth going to. Microsoft has to decide though what they really want it to be about. With the attendance being 30% Devs and 70% IT Pros, the TechExpo area (vendors) was geared more to the Devs. The hard push on cloud this and cloud that was deplorable. The amount of information one could find and learn was amazing, and super condensed. the fact that Microsoft could have handed out Win8 Tablets to all of us for note taking and recording sessions, yet didn’t, was a disappointment. You have the people that drive the IT decisions there. Throw us a bone.