Last week, I went to Microsoft’s TechFest as part of their “Public Day”. This is the first time MVPs as a group have been invited to this event, and although it’s clear we missed some of the demonstrations that are not public-ready, this is something that I hope can be extended to us in future, even if only to Washington-state MVPs
For general news links on MS TechFest 2009, you can search news.google.com for “TechFest”. Here’s a couple of samples:
http://www.king5.com/video/index.html?nvid=335707 – I didn’t see these guys there.
http://www.guardian.co.uk/technology/blog/2009/feb/25/microsoft-software – I bumped into this guy.
I also saw Chris Pirillo there from LockerGnome and Chris.Pirillo, but he hasn’t written anything yet. I only mention him because it’s about time that I thanked him for being one of the earliest online writers (they were called “e-Zines” back then, apparently) to mention WFTPD in his column. Sadly, I don’t have a copy to remember what it is that he said
Apologies to anyone who expected to reach me by email that day – the usual computers spread around the Microsoft Conference Centre for email and web browsing were missing, possibly because the Press were there, and they’ll steal anything that isn’t nailed down, before coming back with crowbars.
So, here’s some description of the things I saw, ranging from the exciting and relevant to the “why is Microsoft spending money on that?” [Note that this is not meant to be disrespectful of ‘pure research’ – often, today’s “useless meanderings” become tomorrows product – WFTPD itself started from a momentary “how hard can it really be?” lapse in my own judgement, followed by a little research and a lot of effort.]
I snapped this picture last week at Microsoft’ Research’s Tech-Fest event.
Microsoft always makes the visiting MVPs feel welcome at Global Summit time, when all MVP awardees are invited to visit Microsoft’s campus, and engage in face-to-face conversations with various Microsoft Product Groups about the feedback they’re seeing from the users they talk to in their various forums, whether that’s Usenet newsgroups, web forums, user groups, or book and magazine readers.
This year, in large part thanks to the efforts of one of the other Security MVPs, Dana Epps, we have a fantastic schedule of in-depth sessions on identity frameworks, threat modeling, Microsoft’s internal security, and a number of other topics that I should perhaps keep quiet about.
The other benefit to me, as an MVP, from these sessions is that I get to network with other MVPs – all of whom are intelligent, driven individuals with expertise in a wide variety of fields, not just my own area of Enterprise Security.
Already I’ve spoken to a number of people in conversations that I intend to continue long after the Summit is over. I’ve made some new friends, met plenty of old friends, and expanded and strengthened existing social connections.
It’s a little sad that the worsening economic climate has caused a number of MVPs from outside the US to not attend this year’s Summit, and even some from inside the country. But it does appear that the MVP programme is still strong, as around 1500 MVPs from around the world are in attendance.
For those wondering about the swag bag, we got a cloth bag, stickers, a pen, and a water bottle. The shirts will be arriving on Wednesday (thank you, US Customs!). The benefit is more in the programme of technical sessions than the bag, unlike some technical conferences, where your $2500 entrance fee gets you a rather spectacular bag of ‘freebies’ and a number of sessions scheduled such that all the ones you want to see are in the same time slot.
I have to say, I love the stickers. Being a part of the MVP programme is a really nice thing that Microsoft does to say ‘thank you’ to people who are assisting Microsoft’s customers in newsgroups, user groups, etc, and who would continue to do so anyway, even if Microsoft ended the MVP programme. As such, I think it’s an excellent recognition, and I’m proud of the fact that I was awarded – so I like to show it off, mainly by plastering stickers on my various technology items like laptops and PDAs.