Tech Ed outgrows current venue

The conference geek parties are getting wilder too

With over 1,900 attendees and a boatload of speakers and exhibitors, Microsoft has declared its annual congregation of tech geeks a “huge success” — to the point that Sean McBreen, director of the Microsoft NZ’s development and platform group, says he’s looking around for a larger venue for next year. As an example, he says the most popular sessions overflowed the 700-capacity rooms at the Sky City Conference Centre.

Tech Ed 2005 kicked off on Sunday with the “student day”. Around 700 students came for 15 sessions. The event continued until Wednesday, with eight different technical tracks with a total of 128 sessions. As for the keynote, McBreen says that while he was pleased with this year’s one, for the next event he would like to see speakers talk more about future technologies.

Microsoft rustled up some 70 industry and tech specialists for the sessions. The two with the highest attendance were security, presented by Jesper Johansson and Steve Riley, and SQL Server 2005 with Jeremy Boyd. Other Microsoft technical luminaries included Ari Bixhorn who demonstrated during the keynote how the Indigo technology in the forthcoming Windows Vista operating system can be used stop children from watching the controversial Jerry Springer Show; Betsy Aoki covered blogging, a zeitgeisty but somewhat unusual topic for a tech conference; and Tony Goodhew delved into XNA for games developers.

Although AMD is now tapping Microsoft on the shoulder, long-standing dancing partner Intel was also at Tech Ed 2005, with Graham Tucker from the chip giant’s Australian office doing his best to make the audience go multi-core blimey with him.

Nic Wise, a developer at Wellington email retention specialist Aftermail, echoes McBreen’s words about needing a bigger venue for the next Tech Ed but adds that he found this year’s event fruitful. Wise, who presented two sessions at Tech Ed, says networking with fellow geeks was the biggest drawcard, but also singles out some of the sessions he attended as being educational and inspirational for the future.

Despite the session-packed conference days, the Tech Ed geeks surprised Microsoft and media alike by partying hard in the evenings. The Feelers supplied the music and but the boisterous crowd needed little encouragement. According to one partygoer Computerworld spoke to, the “geeks were completely rat-arsed”, an expression which we’re told is the technical terminology for having a good time.

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