From June 11, 1996, until June 14, the Microsoft TechEd roadshow hits the fashionable French Riviera. TechEd '96 for the European developer community will be at the Nice Acropolis in Nice.

Near Cannes, St. Tropez, and of course, Monaco, this site promises to tax the wallet of even the hardiest developer--and a glance at the prices Microsoft are charging for attendance shows that the wallet will take a fair old beating even be-fore you get there. Prices on the French Riviera are never cheap at the best of times, and the beginning of summer is certainly not the best of times. But quite frankly, I'm not entirely sure just how this event can cost almost twice as much to attend as Jon Honeyball and I just paid to go to the Internet developer conference in San Francisco. But, there you go. Inflation must be rampant...well, something surely is.

Let's hope that the conference is an improvement on last year's effort in Hamburg. The problem there was language. For some reason, someone decided that, in the main, representatives of Microsoft Germany should give the talks--in English. This must have seemed like a good idea at the time, but this plan sadly misfired. Unless you happen to be a superb linguist, you will always have problems talking on technical subjects in anything but your native tongue. The poor unfortunates who had to deliver some of these sessions were often quite lost for the right word. The audience were having some difficulty in following what was going on: The translators were having to interpret poor English for people who had headsets for precisely the reason that they didn't speak English.

Worse still, the German attendees at this German-hosted conference found it difficult to understand why speakers from Microsoft Germany were speaking in bad English, which was then being translated back to incomprehensible German! The result was that everyone suffered. So it is to be hoped that this linguistic confusion will not happen this year.

It is also to be hoped that there is a levelling out of just what constitutes advanced, when that word is at the front of a conference session title. Jon and I walked into an "advanced" session on database construction, as I recall. We were not impressed to hear the presenter start on about how tables had useful things called records and fields. I had always assumed that this usage problem had something to do with the American idea of what constituted "advanced." But I know this is not the case, having attended advanced sessions at US conferences that left my head reeling. So perhaps this session's level was just a momentary aberration. Let us hope so. Certainly, the topics of interest at this year's European TechEd--the Internet, intranets, and the whole slew of tools and components that Microsoft has and will have by the end of the year--should more than compensate for the conference pricing, as long as TechEd gets as professional a set of presenters as we had in San Francisco.