I was in Orlando last week, attending the Windows and Exchange Connections conferences. Many of our authors speak at these shows, and I find it a good time to connect with them, the vendors that make products to enhance Windows environments, and our readers.

Mark Minasi kicked off the show with his typical entertaining and insightful presentation about Longhorn Server. He discussed many of the features that are expected to be in the upcoming version of Windows Server. Exchange guru Tony Redmond was also on hand for a keynote on Exchange 2007. Tony’s candid insights on the evolution of Exchange Server are always a big hit with attendees. He presented a report card for Exchange 2007 and compared the grades to Exchange 2003. According to Tony, Microsoft has made significant improvements that raised the messaging server’s grades for this new version. But he was also careful to note areas that still need improvement. Tony was gracious enough to share his report card, and I’ve included it in this post.

Windows IT Pro contributing editors Dan Holme, Sean Deuby, and Alan Sugano, pictured here with Mark Minasi, Rhonda Layfield and Windows IT Pro editors Blake Eno and Megan Bearly, provided in-depth presentations on directory services, deployment, and virtualization technologies. Exchange experts Kieran McCorry, Paul Robichaux, and Jim McBee provided their insights on Exchange 2007 migration, PowerShell, Exchange backup, and compliance.

Attendees seemed excited and ready to move to Exchange 2007 and Office 2007. But they expressed more caution when talking about Vista. The attendees I spoke to said they would wait to upgrade to Vista. One in particular mentioned that he just doesn’t have the time and resources to deal with the user education that will be required to support Vista.

You can see a photo of HP speakers Jan DeClercq, Guido Grillenmeier, Stan Foster, and Kieran McCorry here. My time at the show went very quickly, and I am already looking forward to the November 2007 show in Las Vegas. You can learn more about these conferences at www.winconnections.com.