Windows Embedded at TechEd 2008 – My thoughts, and request for feedback.


I’m now back in Redmond after spending a few days at TechEd 2008 Developers in sunny/humid Orlando Florida (I have to say that it is good to be back in cold/damp Redmond!) – This is the first time the Windows Embedded team has “gone big” at TechEd with three pre-conference tutorials (Intro to Windows Embedded, Drivers and BSPs, and Everything but the ISink [funny!]), and I think roughly 25 sessions at the Tech*Ed event covering Windows CE, Windows Embedded Standard (the new name for Windows XP Embedded), and Windows Embedded for Point of Service.

I presented at two sessions, both in the main event (and was lurking in the pre-conference tutorials to assist [or get in the way] and answer questions), the first session was “become a Windows Embedded CE 6.0 developer in 60 minutes” (the session was actually 75 minutes, hopefully no-one noticed!) – this session is really designed for the typical TechEd desktop/server developer – the session provides some history to Windows CE, differences in the API/Architecture from the desktop, interrupt model, real-time support, and tools.

The second session was more of a panel/ask the experts session called “meet the Windows Embedded Architect and Blogger” – this session was well attended and was structured to be a free-form Q&A session with a cool/interesting demo thrown in to get people thinking… The panel included Ilya (director of marketing), Olivier (the new developer evangelist), and me.

The panel session had a mixture of interesting questions ranging from thoughts on processor architecture trends, CE 6.0 driver development and the lack of SetKMode on CE 6.0, application development choices (Win32 vs. Managed), and of course the expected comments on dropping MEDC and moving to TechEd (and the ESC* conferences).

So here’s my thoughts on TechEd, in no particular order…

1. TechEd Keynote

It was awesome to sit through BillG’s final public developer event keynote, but there wasn’t anything that jumped out at me from the keynote – I think it would be perhaps been better to have Bill look back over the last 30+ years, looking at the technology trends and showing how the next generation of operating systems, application and designer development tools fit into these trends – but that’s just my thoughts…

2. TechEd Content

TechEd isn’t a typical embedded developers conference, the typical TechEd audience is enterprise developers (desktop/server), having 25 embedded sessions is not a replacement for MEDC.

The embedded events team really have a challenging balancing act for session content at TechEd, on the one hand we want the traditional MEDC attendee to come to TechEd and get the depth/breadth content they are used to – on the other hand we need to present introductory level content for the typical TechEd crowd so they can see how to take their existing knowledge into the embedded space. An interesting problem to solve!

During the panel session I asked the audience whether they would like to have introductory embedded content posted online (Channel 9 videos for example), or by having a series of LiveMeetings (which could be recorded and then posted to Channel 9 – similar to the Windows Mobile Webcasts) – and then have the depth content at TechEd. This seemed to go over well with the audience.

If we do this, then the Pre-Conference tutorial could really focus on the introductory content needed to get TechEd developers up to speed, and then have the depth content during the main event – thoughts?

3. Conference Location

I don’t know how you feel about Orlando in mid-summer but I’d much prefer to have the conference somewhere that’s warm and not humid – perhaps that’s just me.

Feedback…

Now over to you for feeback…

Q: How did you feel about the embedded content at this years TechEd Develoeprs event? – what could be improved?

Q: Would you like more online video/tutorial/lab content? – and if so, what would you like to see published?

Q: Would you prefer video content (Channel9) or WebCast (so you can ask questions)?

Q: Do you prefer technology focused sessions (multimedia stack architecture, WSD architecture etc…) or solution based content (building a media device using CE 6.0, or building a Thin Client using Windows Embedded Standard etc…)?

Q: If you didn’t go to TechEd – then why not? (what were we missing) ?

Looking forward to your comments.

– Mike

Comments (8)

  1. Paul Tobey (eMVP) says:

    Mike,

    3. I’m sure Arizona would love you have you (especially in summer when hotel rates are lower here, and temperatures are higher).  Current Tucson weather is 91F and 8% (yes, 8%), relative humidity.

    As to questions,

    More online content?  Yes, absolutely.  I can suggest a few things: building a phone using CE6 and cellcore (yes, a full-blown tutorial), cloning and modifying XYZ (you pick the item, but NetUI would be a good one, as would the Explorer shell), and maybe optimizing a display driver for CE6.

    Channel 9/Webcast?  This depends on the topic.  Product/feature announcements work better in Webcast format where there are a lot of questions, but I think that discussions of technologies and how-tos work better when fully planned and executed from your end.  Ditto detailed how-tos.

    Tech focused or solution focused?  I prefer technology-focused.  There’s less chance of ending up in a session that has zero interest for you.  That is, higher probability with tech focused of hitting something that I might need.

    Why no TechEd?  Value per dollar spent is too low for an embedded guy.

    Paul T.

  2. Dean Ramsier says:

    I think you summed up the content challenge pretty well.  There is simply no way to deliver the kind of content that was at MEDC with only a fraction of the time slots available and a much less experienced audience.  25 total slots, divied up among XP, CE, and POS.  I agree with Paul, especially having been there this year.  There simply isn’t enough meat to justify attending unless things change in the future.

    I also agree that in the future, in depth tech focused slots during the week.  I’d also recommend keeping Monday an intro; the model this year was backwards from previous years and I for one didn’t realize the kind of content I might have been interested in was only available Monday.

    My vote is to bring back MEDC, but I get the feeling that isn’t under consideration 🙂

    – Dean

  3. Mike I was there for only one day, but here is my take:

    Q: embedded content:  Will need more.  Break it down

       Smart (e.g. Cellcore, Drivers, etc)

    Q: online video/tutorial/lab content:  The reality of business travel and timing is such you should use every conference as a way to generate content for later download/single user experience on single user schedule.

    Q: video content or WebCast.  Webcast saved.  With attached ‘forum’ style Q&A.  Let it live for a year or so.

    Q: technology focused  or solution based:  Need both, reasonable mix.  Having TechEd with embedded + big windows should be exploited for the solutions POV

    Q: Why not more people at Teched for longer?

    We all miss the ‘big’ MEDC but frankly I really like the opportunity to learn more about Biz Talk and other technologies.  I think what MS need is one show from the logistics point of view, two shows from the POV of promotion. Maybe something like MIX and MEDC next to each other last year, where synergy was accidental.  Make synergy happen.  There are many common topics- VS, Silverlight, etc

    Hope this helps

  4. Walter says:

    Mike,

    I guess I was the target audience for moving MEDC to TechEd.  I’m an enterprise developer with no previous embedded experience and am now way psyched to build my first embedded app.  

    However, I could see that the sessions offered would be not so valuable to someone more experienced.  I think that more in-depth sessions focused on specific solutions (building a media device using CE 6.0, or building a Thin Client using Windows Embedded Standard etc…) would service both sides of the experience scale.

    That’s my two cents, for what it’s worth.

    PS.  I loved your lunch Q&A session.

  5. I think I got more out of the preconference than the individual sessions, but I was looking to learn as much as possible about WinCE6 BSP & Drivers.  I was dissapointed that WM7 was not presented.  Some of the sessions seemed to have repeat content and the sessions held in the Yellow Theater were hard to view unless I sat up front.  The hands on labs were very useful for learning the capabilities of some of the tools I do not use. My goal is to pass the WinCE exam by end of summer. I feel I am now better prepared and have gained access to lots of new training materials.  Having the conference in Boston would be cool.

  6. Tech-Ed continues this week with " IT Week ". Last week was " Dev Week ". I’m back in redmond now after

  7. paul says:

    Where are the photos of the Embedded community?

  8. Todd MacMillan says:

    Q: content?  More sessions like the pre-conf full day presentations, please.  I wanted to see both CE sessions, but had to choose one.  I’d also like to see more in-depth tech content during the week, with 1/2 day or full day sessions.  I prefer more details and fewer PowerPoint summary slides.

    Q: Tutorial/labs?  Yes, provided they are completely downloadable for local playback.  Topics?  creating debugger extensions, driver performance, SDIO drivers, RIL/Cellphone driver and security issues.

    Q: videos?  On-line videos are not my preference.  My internet pipe is shared and video playback is quite erratic.  Downloading the content for local playback is better for me.  Webcast?  Same issue with network bandwidth limitations.

    Q: tech or solution focus? Yes…  As I want to see more total content, having more of both is my vote.

    The sessions that I enjoyed the most were the .NET Micro Framework.  They were having fun with their live demos and sample hardware, and I enjoyed the content of the sessions and watching them have fun.  The lunch q&a was also good.

    ps Congratulation on the new job!