Saturday, July 19, 2008

WPC '08 Summary

Whilst there were a number of decent sessions at WPC '08, I don't think that WPC '08 in and of itself was a great success. Some of the Keynote addresses were good, one in particular was a spectacular flop. The networking in the corridors, WPC Connect and other areas (like the bars and clubs after the day's events) were by far the best thing about the event. It was an expensive networking session with a few event sessions thrown in.

Now, I must say that obviously I didn't attend *all* of the sessions as there were quite a number scheduled in each timeslot. I did have a bit of a look through the schedule before I arrived to see what looked interesting, and then had a more serious look on the night before it all started (6th July, the night before the Pre Day). Some of the sessions I originally thought about attending changed during the course of the Conference, as is often the case when attending these sort of events.

A number of community members presented sessions in the Small and Medium Business track, which was great. I attended a few of these sessions, but again due to scheduling conflicts was not able to attend more.

Now, as to the keynotes. Tuesday July 08 - Allison Watson and Stephen Elop started to lather on the KoolAid in a quite reasonable way. Allison presented every day (being the Corporate Vice President for the Worldwide Partner Group) and she was quite enthusiastic and a good presenter. Stephen Elop presented a general overview of the vision Microsoft has for the future. Although his presentation was quite interesting, I saw nothing new in this that wasn't already out there in the public arena.

Brad Brookes, the Corporate Vice President of Windows Product Marketing, got up in front of about 12,000 people, opened with a bad joke that went nowhere, made what was an obviously false statement about what his daughter apparently said to him before he left, then continued downhill from there. This had to be the worst keynote presentation I've ever attended, from any vendor, at any conference. He had an opportunity to show the thousands of Partners attending WPC '08 that Microsoft was finally (and rather belatedly) getting behind Vista and its Partners, but failed to do so. Utterly failed to do so. In a spectacular way. He then went from the Toyota Center and presented his "Business Opportunities with Windows" presentation (which I didn't attend) which was, from the reports I've heard, another flop and waste of potential. I don't know if this guy was put up as the sacrificial lamb, but I hope he tastes good with roast potatoes and a sprig of Rosemary!

If this is the best marketing that Microsoft has right now, well... I just don't know what to say!

Andrew Lees presented on Windows Mobile. The only issue is that until Microsoft takes Windows Mobile seriously and starts allowing it to integrate with the rest of their product suite properly, it will be almost a good product. I agree that it will add value to your clients, however it won't add the value it could add until Microsoft starts taking it seriously themselves.

Wednesday July 09

Steve Ballmer was a lot less "enthusiastic" than he has been in the past. His keynote was OK. It wasn't all that impressive. I was hoping that the guy in person would be better than this. I was hoping that he'd show me something to help change my mind - but he didn't. I still don't feel he's the right person to be leading Microsoft and I also feel that right now, with Microsoft as utterly directionless as it is, he needs to be asked to step down. I've said enough about this keynote in various other blog entries earlier this month, so I'll stop here before I get carried away. :) I did enjoy his presentation, though.

Simon Witts, Corporate Vice President of the Enterprise and Partner Group, presented about collaboration and communication and was rather enterprise focussed, so therefore, as good as his presentation was, it wasn't really all that relevant to we SBSCers.

Bob Kelly, Corporate Vice President for Infrastructure Server Marketing, spoke about some of the new Server releases - nothing new here. However, his presentation was rather good (and compared to Brad's spectacular flop the previous day, it *needed* to be good), he spoke a bit about SBS 2008 and EBS 2008, Hyper-V and SQL 2008 and gave a rather nice demo of SCE VMM (System Center Essentials Virtual Machine Manager) which can manage both VMWare and Hyper-V environments - proof that Microsoft, even though rather late to the table (again) is taking virtualization seriously. We'll see just how seriously once SBS 2008 is released which SHOULD allow Core + Hyper-V and then SBS installed on that, using the one license. We'll see...

Thursday July 10

Kevin Turner, the Chief Operating Officer, continued to ramble on about how we should all be supporting Vista, how Vista is our future and so on. I did like Kevin's presentation, however this old "Vista is the shiznit" stuff is falling on the deaf ears of those of us who have to support it for our clients. On one hand Kevin is telling us that Vista is the most secure OS ever released, the most bestest OS we have today for business users, that 10,000 laptops get stolen and/or lost every day (I think he said every day) and that BitLocker will help protect your corporate data. On the other hand, there's the fact that Microsoft didn't include BitLocker in Vista Business (ie, a Business-focussed version of Vista) but included it in Vista Ultimate (ie, a home user focussed version of Vista) - now this simply does not make sense.

I'd rather run Vista Business on a client's network if I can actually run Vista, because it is a LOT more stable than Vista Ultimate. The "Media Center" features, even when not used, just aren't that stable - being included and installed seems to be enough to make a VU system a lot less stable than a VB system. And in choosing to run the more stable version of Vista - the one focussed at business users - Microsoft tells us in one breath that security is now important and tells us in the next that it isn't important to Vista Business users.


I emailed Kevin during his Keynote and raised this point. I'm yet to receive a reply. This shows me how concerned Microsoft really is about business users' security. :(

Dr Muhammad Yunus finished up with a very passionate and encouraging presentation. The work that Dr Yunus has done is, in a word, staggering. He's changed the lives of a lot of people in a very positive way and has no doubt gained himself enough Karma Credits that he could use an iPhone, Mac Airbook (or whatever it is called), Safari browser and have shares in Google and the Microsoft Karma Police couldn't touch him. :) I tip my hat to this man and what he's done with his life.

So - a summary of the summary. Was the trip worth it? Yes. For the Conference itself? No. For the people I met? Definitely. Would I go again? Well, for the networking and catching up with people to finish discussions we started, I'd definitely go again. However if Microsoft can't come up with better content, better people to try and promote the Windows ME of this Milennium, and something worth taking home from the Conference itself, I'm sure I could find myself more likely to attend Jeff Middleton's Swingin' New Orleans Conference than the New Orleans WPC '09.


The Outspoken Wookie

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