I arrived in Las Vegas yesterday for the Connections conferences. We editors often call this show the mini-TechEd because it brings together IT professionals and developers who work with Microsoft technology. The November Connections show is actually a collection of co-located conferences. Windows Connections, Exchange Connections, and Unified Communications Connections are aimed at IT professionals. Microsoft ASP.NET Connections, Visual Studio & .NET Connections, and DotNetNuke OpenForce ‘08 Connections target developers. SQL Server Connections and SharePoint Connections encompass both developer and systems administration topics.

Aside from the topic overlap and a few common speakers, the similarities to TechEd stop there. As one of the speakers pointed out to me today, “The Connections shows have more third-party content. So the speakers are not obligated to present the Microsoft message.” They dive right in to the technical details about Exchange, Windows Server, SharePoint, Vista, SQL Server, .NET, and so on.

Take Mark Minasi, for example. Mark had just returned from TechEd EMEA and was overflowing with information about Windows 7 and Windows Server 2008 R2. In his keynote this morning, Mark started with practical details such as Windows Server 2008 R2’s improved power management and Dynamic Driver Provisioning and didn’t stop for the next hour. Mark pointed out that Windows 7 will ease the pressure to upgrade hardware because Microsoft has committed to supporting drivers that work on Vista. If you’ve upgraded your hardware for Vista, you can use that same hardware to run Windows 7. You can read more about Windows 7 features in Paul Thurrott’s report from PDC 2008.

Mark intends to post his Windows Connections keynote presentation on his web site. You can also read Paul Thurrott’s take on Server 2008 R2 here.

Mark asked the audience about their adoption of Windows Server 2008, and I was interested to see that only a handful of attendees had adopted Server 2008. I’d be curious to know how representative this audience is of the wider Windows IT Pro readership. Comment on this article to let us know where you are in the adoption cycle. Have you moved to Windows Server 2008? Will you wait for R2? Or do you have no plans to migrate any time soon?

As for Vista, about half the audience has used Vista. However I don’t believe they had rolled the desktop OS out to their organizations in large numbers. What about the rest of you out there? Will you be upgrading to Vista or waiting for Windows 7?