Last year at Microsoft Ignite in Atlanta, GA was the first time I experienced Microsoft's concept of a Hang Out during their mega-conference.
This year here in Orlando at the OCCC's West Hall the company has once again put together a space that provides multiple uses for attendees and it is well received by everyone I speak to about it.
The first thing is this space is the Hang Out itself. Across a massive screen are eight of the current sessions being presented in rooms around Ignite. By using a battery powered received and a set of headphones - your own or Microsoft will provide a pair - an attendee can tune into any one of these eight sessions. I am not sure of the process to decide which sessions appear in here but one use is to provide an overflow spot to watch in case the original space is full and unable to accommodate more attendees.
If you are just having your lunch and want to detach from the fire hose of information then you can tune into a sports or news channel as alternatives.
An even more important use of this space is the serving of breakfast and dinner for attendees. The enthusiastic Purple Shirts and caterers point you in a direction to grab your meal and then you grab a seat with colleagues of on your own across the vast collection of tables. You can even take your meal to one of the seats in front of the big screen to watch a session or catch up on the news while you eat.
Of course, don't forget the need for hydration of the caffeine and non-caffeine type. Coffee, sodas, and juices are plentiful throughout all of the Ignite venues and attendees are free to consume these magic elixirs at no cost.
Coffee, Soda, or Tea
The Community Central space has been in the OCCC's West Hall this week and you could learn more about the Microsoft Tech Community, the Microsoft Most Valuable Professional (MVP) Program or just check out the awesome doodles of Peter Durand (@PeterDurand) each day.
Peter Durand Doodling at Community Central
The Windows Insider team lead by Dona Sarkar also took over the space for a little bit this week to do their Mixer webcast for everyone and interviewed Insiders and Microsoft folks to talk about Ignite and Microsoft products and services.
Microsoft MVPs in attendance could also go track down their names among the more than 4,000 MVps listed on the MVP Wall at Community Central.
Microsoft MVP Wall at Community Central
Finally, the live set for Microsoft Mechanic's was here in the West Hall Hang Out and they have been doing shows all week long focusing on the new technologies that have been announced and also breaking down current services and products for attendees both here in Orlando and everyone watching online. IT is a popular spot for each live show as they have given away a Surface Laptop to one lucky watcher at each live show.
At a large conference like Microsoft Ignite logistics are critical to success and having a space that offers opportunities to chill out and relax before heading back out into the session rooms is a great resource and a very popular location for attendees.