Highs and Lows of Tech·Ed 2007 Orlando

My list of Highs and Lows from Tech·Ed 2007 Orlando (the fifth Tech·Ed I’ve attended):

Highs

  • Conference Content – Some of the best content yet. Among the sessions there seemed to be plenty of material for just about everyone. As is typical of Tech·Ed, there was so much information that it was like trying to drink from a firehose. I focused on SharePoint (MOSS) 2007, WSS 3.0, SQL Server Reporting Services, IIS7, PowerShell, Windows Server 2008, and the next version of SQL Server (code-named "Katmai")–and I was not disappointed. There were sessions and networking events going on from 8am until late into the evening each day.
  • Conference Location – Orange County Convention Center in Orlando is a great meeting place, IMO. Yes, there is a *lot* of walking, especially if you have to travel from the third-floor of one end to the third-floor of the other end. One of my fellow attendees clocked 5.1 miles on his pedometer after just the first day. Considering how much is going on, however (things like the location of the hotels, the relatively nice-weather, the local attractions, the restaurants, etc.), there are few cities that can match Orlando.
  • Hotel Location – My hotel was directly across the street from the convention center, thereby avoiding the 30-minute bus trips I experienced during Tech·Ed 2005.
  • Keynote – Bob Muglia did a great job, IMO, and the "Back to the Future" skit with Christopher Lloyd was clever and well done. Bob had large expectations to fill; a lot of attendees were hoping that Bill Gates would offer the keynote, prior to his stepping-down from day-to-day activities with the company.
  • General Organization – Other than the lack of ‘signage’ concerning the odd location of the keynote, the organization and the personnel were top-notch.
  • Feeding – It’s amazing to see how fast the personnel can seat and feed over 10,000 people. Of course, serious Tech·Ed attendees take their meals in carry-out containers so that they can attend lunch-time sessions. 🙂
  • Quality of Food – Good offerings this year.
  • Attendee Party at Universal Studio’s Islands of Adventure – Great food and rides. The weather was threatening, but held off for most of the night. Dueling Dragons at The Lost Continent is the best roller coaster I’ve ever been on. Ride in the front seat if you can; you’ll have absolutely no idea what is coming up next.

Lows

  • Keynote Location – The lack of signs meant that many of us walked far into the main convention center on Monday morning only to realize that we had to back track and then walk what-seemed-like-a-mile to get to breakfast and the keynote. And then after the keynote, it took a very long time to get back to the main convention center for the first session. Many of us had no choice but to arrive late for the first session. I’m just glad that there weren’t any scheduled sessions in that other building during the rest of the week!
  • Backpack – Much better design than last year’s pack, but the zippers on it were awful. Three of the many zippers on my backpack either didn’t work or broke within the first day. Very poor quality, IMO. It went into the trash as soon as I got home–after using it to bring back user group swag. [UPDATE: Someone from Microsoft read my blog, apologized for the inconvenience, and graciously offered to send me a replacement backpack. Great to know that the company is interested in this kind of feedback!]
  • Lack of Snacks – When the snacks were available, they were great; too often, however, there were none to be found. Between meals, snacks should have been more plentiful.
  • BlueCasting – This was advertised as: "Receive valuable (and just plain cool) content on your Bluetooth-enabled mobile device". I wish I could say that I experienced this, but they never really seemed to get it working properly–even though my Windows Mobile phone was set to Discoverable.
  • Wireless Inaccessibility – The signal strength was great in the hallways, but poor to non-existent in the session rooms. [UPDATE: Someone from Microsoft read my blog and informed me that wireless is not meant to be available in the session rooms. I have mixed feelings about this. Some of us have need to be online from time to time to monitor a particular problem back in the office, but we don’t want to have to step outside and miss the content being presented. Also, there were times when I wanted to download the corresponding PowerPoint presentation while the speaker was presenting. If I sat near the back or near an open door, I could occasionally get wireless access. Why is wireless access purposely not made available in the conference rooms? Is it distracting to other people? Cell phone use would be distracting, but wireless access? Microsoft, please re-think this for future events.]
  • Attendee Party at Universal Studio’s Islands of Adventure. There were awful, hot, stuffy, very long lines on some of the rides that had enclosed waiting areas–including the Dueling Dragons at The Lost Continent ride, mentioned above. Why the facility doesn’t supply air-conditioning–or even just fans blowing fresh air–is beyond me. Some people almost passed out from the humid conditions. I can’t imagine what it would have been like to be there during the day–with a regular, full-size, crowd!

Bring on Tech·Ed 2008! (to be held in Orlando again, BTW)

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