User voices to be featured at Tech Ed 2007

Developer conference sells out two months in advance

Microsoft’s mammoth developer conference, Tech Ed, has sold out earlier than ever before, says Sean McBreen, director of Microsoft New Zealand’s developer and platform strategy group.

Last year tickets sold out six weeks before the event, but this year all tickets were gone by June 15 — two months before Tech Ed 2007 kicks off.

Many of the 2,000 ticket-buyers are repeat customers, says McBreen.

As usual, the event features over 70 international and national presenters and 128 sessions over three days.

The keynote this year will be somewhat different — internationally acclaimed speaker Lou Carbone will talk about how managing compelling experiences can enhance business success, says McBreen.

Carbone is the founder of Minneapolis-based Experience Engineering, an “experience management” company with clients such as General Motors, Hewlett-Packard, IBM and Xerox.

Another change from last year is the introduction of a track called “The voice of the customer”, where attendees will hear local businesses talk about the technology they are using and how that is working for them, says McBreen. The presenters will be announced closer to the event, but it is safe to say that companies like Xero will present, he says.

“We have three big themes at the event this year,” says McBreen. “[These are] software plus services — where we believe the future of applications are heading; Visual Studio 2008, Windows Server 2008 and SQL Server 2008 — New Zealand customer momentum; and building ICT capability,” he says.

The Tech Ed student day, held the day after the main event, aims to boost ICT students skills, he adds. “We get about 1,000 tertiary students into the Sky City theatre and do a whole lot of sessions with international and local speakers — to get them excited about a career in IT,” he says.

Around 40 of the speakers are from the US, primarily people who work in Microsoft’s product groups.

“There are also local community speakers, either people who are active in the developer community in New Zealand, or end-customers, who are presenting in the voice of the customer track,” says McBreen.

Some of the speakers for the event this year are Tony Goodhew, Visual Studio product manager; Michael Platt, director of the architecture strategy group; Nikhil Kothari, architect for ASP.Net AJAX and ASP.Net server controls; Joe Stegman, Silverlight product manager; Steve Riley, security product manager; Kai Axford, security product manager and Mahesh Prakriya, product manager of the dynamic language team.

Feedback from the last couple of years shows that attendees come to TechEd mainly for three reasons, McBreen says.

“Attendees come for the international speakers, which we have more of this year than ever before; they come for the networking opportunities and to find out about future technologies. And to have a good time,” he adds.

The party that wraps up the event is also going to be a little bit different this year.

For the last couple of years, The Feelers have entertained the Tech Ed crowd but this year Evermore will be performing, says McBreen.

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