In this issue of Windows Web Solutions UPDATE, I'll switch gears and cover something that isn't as controversial as Microsoft's legal problems, which I've written about in the past two issues. Microsoft TechEd 2002 North America takes place this week (April 9 through 13) in New Orleans. TechEd North America is Microsoft's best-attended event worldwide; the number of attendees at past TechEd events has reached 12,000. Even with the sagging US economy, Microsoft expects between 8000 and 10,000 attendees at this year's event. TechEd Europe will take place in early July in Barcelona, Spain; attendance at the European event is typically about 75 percent of the North American event's attendance. About 15 smaller TechEds are scheduled throughout the world during the summer.

I expect TechEd 2002 North America to prove especially useful for developers and network engineers because Visual Studio .NET and the Microsoft .NET Framework have been shipping since mid-February. For the past 3 years, .NET sessions at TechEd and the Microsoft Professional Developers Conference (PDC) have been mostly theoretical, delivered from an ivory-tower point of view because no .NET products were publicly available. This year, TechEd events throughout the world will contain content arising from real-world, practical, in-the-trenches experience. Microsoft has asked all TechEd speakers, including those from Microsoft and third-party organizations, to ensure that their presentations meet the following requirements:

  1. Cover primarily 300- and 400-level (i.e., advanced- and expert-level) material.
  2. Be "demonstration-heavy," with sessions limited to 20 or fewer slides.
  3. Contain practical material, such as case studies or "in-the-trenches" experience.

This is the fourth consecutive year that I'll have the pleasure of delivering sessions at TechEd, and I'm happy to report that one of my sessions has only two slides—an opening slide that displays the session's title (i.e., "DEV392—Building a Fully Functional Windows Application in One Hour: A Case Study by Iron Developer—Part 1") so that attendees will know they're in the right room, and a closing slide that shows people where to get more information and where to download the code and demonstration script. This session will be the first time in my career that I've presented at any event without using Microsoft PowerPoint slides extensively, and I believe it's a great trend that Microsoft is encouraging. I'm sure that all readers of this Commentary have experienced the "death by PowerPoint" feeling sometime during their careers. The good news is that Microsoft's TechEd managers have studied comments from past conference evaluations and are trying to improve the content and format of TechEd sessions.

Additionally, TechEd 2002 North America will feature several sessions by Microsoft customers. Brad Sherrell, a vice president in the IT group of Pacific Life Insurance's Life Division, will present a case study about Pacific Life 's .NET application deployment. (Pacific Life participated in the .NET Enterprise Early Adopter Program.) I've heard Brad speak many times and have coauthored two books with him, and I know that he won't pull any punches; he will praise Microsoft when the company deserves it and will point out where and how to navigate .NET's rough spots.

If you don't get a chance to attend this year's TechEd, you won't completely miss out on the information that will come from the event. Microsoft plans to create a DVD that will be available for purchase; the DVD will contain all the sessions from the North American event. And I would guess that the "Best of TechEd" sessions will make their way to Microsoft Developer Network (MSDN) subscribers and to the MSDN Web site ( http://msdn.microsoft.com ).

Also, Microsoft will take advantage of this large TechEd event to make several public announcements about new products. I've heard that some of the products are quite exciting, and I look forward to discussing them in the April 23 issue of Windows Web Solutions UPDATE.