TechEd is a marvelous event for a lot of reasons: networking, learning about product roadmaps, discovering new third-party solutions, etc.
For me, personally, the “sessions” are by far the weakest part of the event. One of the things that drives me nuts about TechEd, and about Microsoft “Technical Sessions” in general, is the painfully shallow level of technical content in the vast majority of their presentations. Let’s face it, Microsoft is in the business of getting you to buy their software, and they only need to give you just enough information to get you “hooked.” They don’t have a business driver to help you to actually do the things they told you that you could do. I understand that. Microsoft tells you “this is what you can do”, not “this is how to do it, this is where you might run into trouble along the way, and here’s how to fix it.”
Microsoft also has a “global reach” which means that when they do tell you something, they need to say it in such a generic way that it should, theoretically, apply to any customer, big or small, in any country, in any industry. By trying to be everything to everyone, they lose the ability to be anything to anyone, at least as far as “knowledge transfer” goes. Again, this is just my feeling, but I know I’m not alone.
So even most of the “Level 300” and “Level 400” sessions were nothing more than tours of features I could have read about on the Microsoft web site. My guess is that Microsoft was so strapped for content that they decided if a speaker opens a Virtual PC to show a feature, not just talk to a slide, that makes it a Level 300 session.
There is definitely value to be had at TechEd—I just wish I could challenge Microsoft to really raise the bar for content they deliver at their premier event. For those of you looking for independent, in-depth content, join our experts at the Connections event in Vegas, November 5-9 (www.winconnections.com).