Updated 4/26/2012 - 10:17am MT: Microsoft responded to this story by providing the following statements: "We haven't announced plans for TechEd 2013." and "We look forward to a great show next June  in New Orleans."
Another MMS is in the rear-view mirror, and by most accounts it was a success. Microsoft Corporate Vice President Brad Anderson announced during one of his keynotes that the show was completely sold out, with more than 5300 IT professionals in attendance. Microsoft also had several significant announcements at the show, including the availability of System Center 2012 and the official name change of Windows Server '8' to Windows Server 2012.
"Community feedback has been good [about MMS 2012]," Rod Trent (@rodtrent), founder of myITforum.com, told me in a post-MMS email interview. "There were definitely some good sessions, but the overall feeling from alumni is that there were less good quality technical sessions available this year. However, it is a big year for Microsoft with the system center announcements. You have to expect it to be a bit more salesy."
Senior Systems Engineer Danny G Guillory Jr (@dquilloryjr) also had a good overall impression of the conference, and singled out the keynotes for praise. "The keynote this year was by far the best keynote I’ve seen in years...and [show] signage was better also this year than last year," said Guillory. "I really like the book that was included in the backpack, that listed the different sessions. I’m actually looking forward to seeing the TechEd Keynote now...I did enjoy the Meet and Geek by myITforum a lot."
I also asked attendees for their feedback about the show on Twitter. MMS attendee Harold Wong (@haroldwong) suggested that show highlights included some of the parties, keynotes and attendees interaction, but criticized the long check-in lines for attendees on opening day.
One of the hot topics of discussion at the show was MMS 2013, which several vendors I spoke with were surprised to see announced. While none of the vendors I spoke with would go on the record and allow me to print their names and companies with their comments, several said that the decision whether to move ahead with MMS 2013 was made in the weeks leading up to MMS. "There are rumors every year around this, so nothing new," Trent said. "However, I do know that the decision to have MMS 2013 was only made as late as this past weekend [April 14-15]. So, yes, there was a decision to be made."
Other sources I spoke with speculated that Microsoft might locate MMS with TechEd as a cost-saving measure, as many of the same internal teams at Microsoft work on the same conferences. Grouping MMS and TechEd together would also help Microsoft aggregate more IT professionals into a single conference and bolster attendance numbers, a move that might help Microsoft provide a more effective marketing counterpoint to the ever-increasing attendee figures for VMware's VMworld conference, which had more than 19,000 attendees last year.
More information that points to a possible link-up between the two conferences is the timing for MMS 2013, which is slated for June 2013. MMS conferences have historically been held in April or May, while TechEd normally lands in May or June. It's unclear how Microsoft could manage to pull off two large tech conferences in the same month using the same internal PR and event teams, so a co-located conference approach could make sense from a financial and organizational perspective.
"[It's not really a merger], but the rumors I am hearing is [that it will be] a co-located conference," Trent said. "The new Orleans conference center is large enough to host both crowds." Trent also speculates that one of the slides used towards the end of Anderson's keynote on Day Two lacked the words "MMS 2013" and could easily be reused at TechEd 2012 in Orlando next month.
I've reached out to Microsoft for comment on this story, and will update the article if and when Microsoft replies. (Updated 4/26/2012 - See Microsoft statement at top of story.)
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