Last week, I had the privilege of attending TechReady, a bi-yearly, Microsoft-only, technical training conference. In all, thousands upon thousands of content was prepared and delivered, from recently finished products like Windows 7 and Windows Server 2008 R2, to future products like Office 2010 and Windows Mobile 6.5, to ********* (sorry, can’t talk about that one!) 😉
In addition to the technical components, it was also a great chance to network with some fellow employees. Most of this was done, of course, over some good food and drink. Most of the technical details are pretty boring, so here’s a quick summary:
- Windows 7 has been stripped down to perform better and be even more secure than Vista was; most of the tweaks under the hood served to improve abilities for a broad range of users
- Windows Server 2008 R2 features a host of improvements focusing on helping customers get the best out of their investment
- Branch Caching and DirectAccess will prove to be invaluable for enabling the mobile workforce to be more productive, while at the same time allowing administrators to manage and monitor those machines
- Hyper-v R2 adds a plethora of features to go head to head with VMWare, including Live Migration (complete with migrating across different generations of CPUs), increased scalability (up to 64 logical processors), and improved virtual network performance
- Office 2010 and SharePoint 2010 are being built to enable better live collaboration across the PC and web platforms while Office gets some significant UI tweaks to improve on the ribbon
- Bing.com will continue to be improved and implemented, be sure to look for continues releases over the coming year. Some changes will be significant, but unfortunately I’m not able to talk about them. 😦 Nonetheless, I saw some preproduction demos and they’re really cool!
The week started out with a 5 hour flight from Charlotte to Seattle. I’d opted for a direct flight, so everything went off without a hitch and arrived at 8:30pm PDT. Unfortunately for me, there’s a 3 hour time difference between Charlotte and Seattle, so I felt like it was 11:30pm… the toll of traveling plus the jet lag didn’t settle well, so I was pretty exhausted. By the time I hit downtown Seattle and got checked into the hotel, it was going on 9:30. After having a quick bite to eat at the nearby Cheesecake Factory (White Chocolate Caramel Macadamia Nut Cheesecake FTW!), it was time to settle in for the night and get ready for the kickoff next morning.
Both breakfast and lunch were provided at the convention center and the food has always been passable to decent. Breakfast the first day was no exception, though selection left a bit to be desired.
Attendees piled into the meal hall
Breakfast consisted of apple pancakes, sausage, fruit, and some sort of egg tart thing
With breakfast out of the way, it was on to the first general session. TechReady is organized and run under the guidance of Norm Judah, CTO of Worldwide Services and IT at Microsoft. It’s no surprise that he’s always roaming around the event and kicks everything off on day 1. Being at general session, you really come to appreciate the scale of the event, and the sheer number of people who attend. Not only that, but all those people need to be fed, housed, and entertained. For this event, Microsoft flies in several thousand people from all over the world, and essentially takes over all of downtown Seattle. 17 hotels were all but booked to capacity just for attendees. The statistics (especially the number of cups of coffee consumed) are just staggering!
There was one slight snag in the planning this year. No one could foresee record high temperatures in Seattle last week. The forecast had several days peaking over 100, and a new all time record was set at 102. While this isn’t a problem in other parts of the world, only about 30% of homes in Seattle have air conditioning since average temperature in the summer is usually around 80 degrees. You can only imagine the hoards of people out and about town trying to find somewhere cool to sit… Fortunately for us, the convention center and hotels were ample cool, and we were able to stay out of the heat (for the most part).
In addition to attending the sessions and learning about all the new technologies, I took some time here and there to do some exploring. Most notably, I hit the International District which is home to Chinatown and Japantown. The latter housed my objectives: Kinokuniya bookstore and Uwajimaya market. With its food court and supermarket, Uwajimaya seemed the ideal place to have some lunch and shop. Having Kinokuniya in the same building would eventually prove to be detrimental on my wallet…
Obligatory Chinatown arch
Bi Bim Bop set (egg partially eaten)
Food court is packed during lunch hours
Purchases from Uwajimaya: Pocky, melon-pan, and Ramune
Purchase from Kinokuniya, also picked up Fate/Stay Night anime production sketch album
Stay tuned for part 2, with more roaming around Seattle, TechReady Attendee party, and tasty pictures!