TechEd Europe: Keynote

We started planning today's keynote back in March. Keynotes are always problematic at conferences of the scale of TechEd: most attendees have an expectation that there will be one, but the feedback scores suggest that they're not the absolute highlight of the conference in most cases. We know full well that in an ideal world we'd have Bill Gates or Steve Ballmer as keynote speakers at every event, but of course that's not possible. So instead, we wanted to try something really different for this week's conference: rather than having one single keynote speaker talking about a specific product or technology area, we put together a series of 7 separate demos that highlight diversity of innovation coming from within Microsoft. The idea was to show off some fun areas of Microsoft that attendees might not have been aware of, as well as making several product announcements. So, in order:

  1. A blind software engineer from Zurich on how screen reading and accessibility software has enabled him to interact online;

  2. A demonstration of Visual Studio Team System: a series of tools for enterprise software development;

  3. A demonstration of Visual Studio and SQL Server Express Editions: bringing developer tools and technologies to hobbyists, students and enthusiasts;

  4. The Voice over IP services provided at TechEd Europe: every attendee can make free international phone calls for the duration of the conference;

  5. Mobility in Action: demonstrating how Visual Studio 2005, along with MapPoint Location Services, make it possible to build connected, location-aware Smartphone applications quickly and easily;

  6. Jim Gray on how SkyServer is democratising astronomy by sharing telescope information repositories across the Internet as web services;

  7. 64-bit computing for real-time 3D visualisation.

I'd love to hear your feedback on the keynote, if you attended - this was a very different keynote from our point of view, as I mentioned above, and it wasn't risk free! Would you like to see similar kinds of keynote at future Microsoft events?

Comments (7)

  1. Anonymous says:

    Great keynote! Much better than last two years!!!

  2. Anonymous says:

    Yes it was a good start to the event. The keynote was fantastic. It was really good to see where we are heading for especially on the developing side and also 64bit and gig speeds.

    I have attended the Exchange 2003 Overview which was also quite informative.

  3. Anonymous says:

    Much better than any I’ve been too. I was dreading a long winded affair. The problems that partially sighted users is something than many developers know very little about. In many ways I’m fortunate in that one of our support guys is nearly blind so I constantly try to make his life easier.

    The guys in mobile suits was a good idea, drums are great fun while waiting.

  4. Anonymous says:

    Having the blind person show us his daily struggle to do the simplest things we take for granted was a really great idea; it was definitely not ‘fun’ though.

    I could almost feel the shame radiating from developers in the audience when we witnessed how painful our fancily-designed web pages were to him. The entire room was silent. A really humbling experience, at least for me.

  5. Anonymous says:

    I am often accused of banging the Microsoft drum.. now I have, literally.

    The demo of VSTS and the 64bit 3d modeling were the highlight for me. Our organisation has been aware of accesibility problems but that was the first time i’ve seen a screen reader and brail gizmo ‘in the flesh’.

    This was my first large conference and I can honestly say the keynote was very enjoyable.

    (It would have been nice to see Bill or Steve on stage though but im not complaining )

  6. Anonymous says:

    the keynote rocked! the drumming was cool but weird, it felt a bit like some kind of cult / hive mind thing.

  7. Anonymous says:

    I came in late, in the middle of the part with the blind developer. Brilliant! It just makes you aware of the efficiency of the screen/eye interface. And the use of toys on web pages. I’m going to wear protective glasses full-time.

    Great format and well balanced. Better than the rambling VIP (sorry Steve, Bill).

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