There haven’t been many blog posts on the site this week but it’s been a full-on week in Redmond at at the Windows Server 2008 Worldwide Technical Workshop.
Not many people will write about their experience of attending a conference for the IT industry press (I’m not a journalist – just a blogger) but it’s been great to be labelled as a member of the “worldwide press” (I kid you not) for a few days and I wanted to write something about the experience.
It was a long trip out here and I was pretty tired but also very exited about the event – my first visit to the Microsoft Campus. As I waited for the coach that took us from the hotel to the Microsoft Conference Center, I got chatting to Paul Hearns, the editor at ComputerScope (of one of Ireland’s leading IT trade publications) and realised that I was probably one of only a small number of bloggers at the event – with the distinction being that journalists write objective opinion pieces (at least, that’s the idea – PR is a strong influencing factor) and that IT bloggers are often enthusiastic techies, with less focus (but an increasingly wide audience).
The calibre of the other attendees was soon apparent as, the first person I saw after registration was Paul Thurrott (best known for his SuperSite for Windows, WinInfo Updates and the Windows Weekly podcast). I hold Paul’s work in high regard as he is one of the few tech writers that I know of who manages to write objectively about both Windows and Macintosh topics (provoking criticism from both sides – often unfounded). I introduced myself (not expecting Paul to know my work, even though we have exchanged e-mails on occasion) but I’m afraid it’s difficult not to appear a little geeky when you ask someone if they would mind posing for a photo with you.
As the day moved on, I met journalists whose work I was familiar with but whom I only knew from their bios – people like Karen Forster and David Chernicoff – and later I introduced myself to Steven Bink, who constantly amazes me for being able to pump out so many Microsoft news stories from his site.
I also met John Savill, who I always thought was a) American and b) a professional technical writer – it turns out that he’s actually English and, just like me, he has a day job working for a large IT company and writes in his spare time. Also, just like this blog, John’s Windows FAQs started out as being for his own benefit and has become a useful resource for other people. And it turns out that John and I are not alone in this world of part-time IT writers as I hooked up with James Bannan (best known for his work at APC Mag) and Andrew “Dugie” Dugdell.
One thing I was totally unprepared for was the size of the Microsoft Campus. I don’t know the exact size but it must cover at least a square mile, on both sides of I-520. I’m not sure how this compares to the GooglePlex or Apple’s base in Cupertino but certainly puts 5 buildings in Thames Valley Park into context.
Another thing that I found interesting is that there is no building 7… and being sent to a meeting in building 7 is a common prank to play on new employees (thanks to John Howard for providing that little piece of trivia – Scott Guthrie has more trivia about the various buildings on the Microsoft campus).
I’m on my way home now, worn out after 24 sessions in 3 days and yes, I drank the Kool-aid (actually it was Mountain Dew…), picking up a stack of information about Windows Server 2008, as well as meeting some great people. Expect to see plenty of Windows Server 2008 information posted here over the coming weeks.