TechEd is Dead, Long Live TechEd

TechEd is Dead, Long Live TechEd

TechEd pulls a Zune

Confirming rumors that date back to last year, Microsoft this week said that it is killing off its successful TechEd trade show series. But it's not really going away: Instead, Microsoft will consolidate TechEd and several other IT- and enterprise-focused tradeshows into a single, unified tech conference, the first rendition of which is now scheduled for Chicago in May 2015.

"I am thrilled to announce we will be hosting an inaugural, unified Microsoft commercial technology conference the week of May 4, 2015 in Chicago, Illinois," Microsoft's Julia White said in a blog post. "We're bringing the best of what made our past conferences so valuable, plus adding more of what you've asked for."

More specifically, this as-yet-unnamed new event will combine TechEd with the Microsoft Management Summit (MMS, previously announced) and, presumably—which I say because Microsoft is simply not being very specific here—the Microsoft Exchange Conference (MEC), SharePoint Conference, Lync Conference and Project Conference. That is, are these shows going away for good, to be replaced by this one mega-show? Or is this one 2015 show a one-off event and then it's back to normal?

Here's what they do say.

"If you attended the SharePoint Conference, Exchange Conference, Lync Conference or Project Conference, this is the conference for you," the post adds. "And, if you're interested in or already using Office 365, this is the conference for you."

Clear? No.

I do happen to know that those conferences have all been killed off. But I also know that Microsoft cannot effectively communicate this for some reason. And I'm curious why something so simple is so beyond them. That statement does not say those conferences have been killed off. It just says that this new show will be interesting to that audience.

This is not pedantic. We shouldn't have to interpret a sentence. Microsoft should clearly state what is happening.

So why is this happening? Why turn multiple shows into a single mega event?

Microsoft offers a number of reasons. But I have my suspicions that it's just internal politics. That TechEd and these other shows were run by whatever groups and that in Microsoft's ongoing reorganizations, those groups have been tossed aside or lost some of their cohesiveness. Something new was required. Whatever.

(PDC became BUILD because of politics, by the way: PDC was run by the dev org, and BUILD is run by Windows; it was a power grab during Sinofsky's tenure. By the way, this week's news does not impact BUILD.)

But here's the thing. When you talk about combining TechEd with MMS, MEC, and the SharePoint, Lync and Exchange conferences, you know what gets spit out the other side? Right. TechEd. This thing should just be called TechEd. That's it's not—we don't know the final name, Microsoft says it will check back in September—suggests politics too. That the TechEd name is associated with whatever group in Microsoft and this new unified show is some other group.

If not, it's still politics: Microsoft didn't want to burn the folks associated with those other shows by making everything just part of TechEd. Either way, this is a bad move, I think. It should be called TechEd.

So we'll see how they handle this. So far, not so good.

By the way, TechEd Europe 2014 is scheduled for late October in Barcelona, Spain, and could very well be the final TechEd-branded event. I wish I was going to that.

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