I recently attended Microsoft's Tech Ed 2007 conference held in Orlando, Florida at the Orange County Convention Center. My overall impression of the event was positive. Virtually everything related to the event was well done - food, transportation, the facilities, and the event itself.
Breakfast and lunch were taken care of by Microsoft each day during the conference. I've never seen a dining area as large as the one set up for the conference attendees. Even during my time spent in the US Navy I never saw a place where so many people could all eat at the same time. The food itself was edible - I'm such a finicky eater that you can't have me judge food because it simply wouldn't be fair. Besides breakfast & lunch, there were tables full of a wide assortment of snacks, all kinds of drinks, plus lets not forget the coffee. I saw plenty of fat developers at the snack tables chowing down on chips & Pepsi - some of these guys looked like they were ready to give birth!
I stayed at an AmeriSuites that is being converted into a Hyatt Place hotel. The room was nice, the staff friendly, but the best part of my stay was the 42 inch HD TV in my room. I watched plenty of sports and it was very nice. I wonder what football would look like on an HD TV?
The sessions themselves were not what I expected. The people presenting at these sessions were either Microsoft employees or Microsoft Partners. What impressed me most, especially from the Microsoft employees, was their willingness to listen to the attendees and what we had to say. There was one gentleman, one of Microsoft's Exchange experts, who impressed me most. He said, "If our product sucks, you need to tell us so we can improve them." They didn't act like their products were perfect. Instead, I got the sense that what they were presenting were best practice scenarios - and that was exactly what I was looking for. Any competent Technologist looks for best practices as a guide to what they want to do.
I came away from the conference with a healthy respect for Microsoft and its employees. Plus some of the vendors at the conference had technologies that I'd forgotten about. There are two firms, ScriptLogic and UltraBac, that I'm working with to implement their solutions in my organization.
I'd love to go to the conference next year - it will again be held in Orlando. I just have to convince my boss to again let me go.