This week, I'm writing to you from Microsoft TechEd in Atlanta. Although TechEd didn't focus a lot of attention on Exchange Server, the conference was still worthwhile. Let's look at some TechEd highlights.

Paul Flessner, Microsoft senior vice president for .NET Enterprise Servers, provided TechEd's opening keynote address. Flessner discussed .NET's importance to all of our futures and mentioned several customers who are deploying .NET applications today. The keynote also served as a launch point for Microsoft's Content Management Server 2001 (a result of Microsoft's acquisition of NCompass) and Mobile Information 2001 Server (I didn't know it wasn't launched). Content Management Server and Mobile Information Server join the growing .NET Enterprise Server family, which includes Exchange 2000 Server, BizTalk, Commerce Server, Internet Security and Acceleration (ISA) Server 2000, Host Integration Server, and SQL Server. Flessner also noted that SQL Server has finally achieved the number one position for a database server on the Windows platform (Oracle held this honor previously, much to Microsoft's chagrin).

Mobile Information Server is significant to Exchange deployments because one of its key deliverables is Outlook Mobile Access. Outlook Mobile Access lets users "push" content such as meeting requests to mobile devices and also enables these devices to browse back to a user's inbox. When deployed in the corporate infrastructure and coupled to a mobile carrier's deployment, Mobile Information Server provides an end-to-end connectivity solution. Even more important is the product's ability to mobility-enable an organization's line of business and collaborative applications. With this week's launch, Mobile Information Server is formally available for public purchase (even though Joint Development Program—JDP—participants and carriers have had the software for some time).

Bill Gates presented the Day 2 keynote, which focused on Visual Basic (VB) and Visual Studio.NET (and the availability of beta 2 code). Gates also spent substantial time communicating Microsoft's message about .NET Web Services, and participated in an interesting demonstration in which he used Visual Studio.NET to rewrite his original Donkey.bas video game application (included in PC DOS 1.0). During the demo, Gates used a Force Feedback steering wheel with the video game to avoid donkeys on the road while driving (you probably had to be there).

Overall, this TechEd conference wasn't for Exchange professionals: It featured only eight Exchange sessions. We'll need to get our Exchange content at Microsoft Exchange Conference (MEC) 2001 in October. For more details about this year's TechEd conference, including Webcast information, please visit Microsoft's TechEd site.