Microsoft Exchange Conference: MEC 2012 Wrap-Up in Pictures

The Microsoft Exchange Conference (MEC) 2012 has been over for a little more than a week. Is that too short a time to feel nostalgic about it? Ah, well. I got missing all the great people and excellent conversation about Exchange Server that took place there. And then I remembered I had a bunch of pictures from the event. So I thought I'd share some of them.

We'll start with the day 2 keynote, which was a live Geek Out with Perry session. For anyone not familiar with this series, Geek Out with Perry is a video Q&A with Exchange distinguished engineer Perry Clarke, hosted by technical product manager Ann Vu. Perry typically whiteboards answers to questions from the Exchange community. At MEC, the session was presented in front of a packed house, and the whiteboard was a large touch screen from Microsoft's recent acquisition, Perceptive Pixel.

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The Microsoft Exchange team's Ann Vu and Perry Clarke doing Geek Out with Perry live 

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Perry Clarke uses the giant touch screen display from Perceptive Pixel to whiteboard an answer 

The session was met with mixed responses from attendees and the Twitterati of the conference. Tony Redmond posted a nice review of the Geek Out keynote and other day 2 events in his blog, "MEC day 2: Geek Out could have been better, but much to applaud."

Later on day 2 of the conference, the Exchange Arena completion got underway. Sixteen competitors entered the contest, in four brackets of four, with each bracket facing a different real-world-based troubleshooting challenge on an Exchange 2010 organization. The event took place at the hotel's sports bar, Wreckers, and the contestants screens were duplicated on the giant screens for the audience while they frantically tried to solve difficult, yet typical, problems with an Exchange environment -- all the while with the crowd cheering on their favorites and the MCs reporting on their progress. Great fun was had by all.

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Contestants getting ready before the first round of the Exchange Arena challenge 

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Double giant screens gave the audience a view of the contestants' screens during the Exchange Arena competition

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Round 2 of the Exchange Arena competition nears its conclusion

The winners of each of the four brackets faced off in the finals during the closing keynote of the conference -- in front of the entire conference as an audience. How's that for replicating a real-world pressure situation of phones ringing and bosses and users yelling to get the problem fixed?

Another nice feature of MEC was the Hands-On Labs. Here, attendees were able to perform exercises and tutorials on Exchange 2010 as well as getting some first live time with the new Exchange 2013. For conference attendees who didn't get a chance to visit the labs, you can access the content online through the MyMec section of the conference website through December 27, 2012.

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The Hands-On Lab where MEC attendees could run tutorials on Exchange 2013 or Exchange 2010 

I suppose it wouldn't be a Microsoft event without an awesome party or two thrown in. I didn't take any pictures during the very fun night at Universal's Islands of Adventure. However, I did get a wide-angle view of conference goers mingling during MAPI Hour.

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MAPI Hour in the atrium of the Gaylor Palms Resort 

Although the focus of MEC was certainly the technical content, particularly around Exchange 2013, the conference was also a lot of fun. Microsoft and the Exchange team who put on the show made sure of that! As part of the fun, the Exchange team resurrected the legend of Squeaky Lobster and made the little fellow an integral part of the conference. Well, "integral" might be taking it a bit far; perhaps a friendly, amusing add-on. Squeaky was on Twitter throughout the conference, and if you haven't seen the pictures of Squeaky in action, definitely check out Squeaky's Twitter gallery.

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Squeaky Lobster "calibrating the equipment" before the Exchange Arena competition got underway

Of course I didn't get pictures of everything at the conference, but there are a few more posted in an album on the Windows IT Pro Facebook page. If you have appropriate pictures from the event that you'd like to share, post them to our page, and I'll add them to the album. And for anyone who was unable to attend MEC, you can view the keynotes from the conference on the new www.iammec.com community site along with other conference resources.

Follow B. K. Winstead on Twitter at @bkwins
Follow Windows IT Pro on Twitter at @windowsitpro

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