After spending two full days at Tech Ed 2008 Developers, and speaking with a number of attendees, vendors, and SQL Server Magazine authors, the verdict seems to be in: splitting up Tech Ed into two shows is garnering mixed reviews, especially for SQL Server developers. Microsoft has divided Tech Ed into two shows for years in Europe, and the formula has proven successful there. A Microsoft PR rep mentioned to one of our editors that more than 6,000 attendees registered for the show this week, which is an impressive statistic for what is essentially a brand new show.

That said, the show doesn't look very well-attended. Both the Tech Ed 2008 Developers and Tech Ed 2008 Windows IT Professionals shows are being held at the Orange Country Convention Center in Orlando, which is a positively colossal place -- I'm sure most of the population of Loveland, CO (home to our editorial offices) could fit within it's immense confines. As well-attended as the show is, it almost seems lost in the immensity of its surroundings. I took this photo down one of the main showfloor halls on Tuesday (6/4) around 3:00pm EST:

Granted, many developers are attending labs and work sessions, but the overlarge convention space makes the show look miniscule. After I took a rather innocuous photo of a Tech Ed logo adorning a nearby booth, a staffer wearing a blue shirt emblazoned with a white Microsoft logo stopped me in the hall, complimented me on my photo, then informed me that I wasn't allowed to take pictures at the event.

"You're saying that the press can't take photos at Tech Ed?" I asked.

"I'm sorry," she said, "But I've been told that people aren't allowed to take photos."

Here's the photo in question:

I briefly entertained the mental image of yours truly being dragged away kicking and screaming by burly TechEd bouncers and dumped into a too-small cubicle without access to WiFi or caffeine, all for taking a blurry, poorly framed photo of the Microsoft Tech Ed logo.

I then snapped out of my imaginary confinement, marched down to the Tech Ed press room, and asked a kindly Waggener Edstrom PR rep about the Tech Ed photo policy. She said she wasn't aware of any restrictions, and later confirmed that it was simply a misunderstanding: I could take all the pictures at TechEd I wanted.

I've heard from people inside and outside of Microsoft that the corporate culture has changed over the years. Yet little mishaps like this prove that there are still people in the halls of Redmond that may not see openess as a good thing. In a Web 2.0 world filled with camera-equipped cell phones, instant blogging, and inhabited with agile, forward-looking competitors like Google and VMware, it surprises me that some 'softies in the ranks of middle management--hidden in the vast depths of the inscrutable Microsoft bureaucracy--are exhorting their employees to spend their valuable time preventing people from taking blurry photos of trade show signage.

So if you happen to attend next weeks' Tech Ed 2008 IT Professionals show, be sure to take a few blurry photos (or videos) and send 'em my way (jjames\[at\]windowsitpro.com).

We'll pick our favorite and award the winner a free Windows IT Pro VIP subscription.