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:
- A blind software engineer from Zurich on how screen reading and accessibility software has enabled him to interact online;
- A demonstration of Visual Studio Team System: a series of tools for enterprise software development;
- A demonstration of Visual Studio and SQL Server Express Editions: bringing developer tools and technologies to hobbyists, students and enthusiasts;
- The Voice over IP services provided at TechEd Europe: every attendee can make free international phone calls for the duration of the conference;
- 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;
- Jim Gray on how SkyServer is democratising astronomy by sharing telescope information repositories across the Internet as web services;
- 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?