Microsoft TechEd: The Developer Conference That Everyone Forgot

With all the fuss about Apple’s WWDC, which starts today, and Google I/O at the end of the month, Microsoft’s big TechEd North America conference, which is aimed at both developers and sysadmin (or IT Pros, in Microsoft parlance), seems to have faded into the background. TechEd, being based in the Eastern time zone (it’s in Orlando this year), has been in full swing for a few hours already, and not a single report has found its way to Techmeme as of this writing; it’s a safe bet that this will not be the case for WWDC after it’s been in full swing for a few minutes.

People actually lining up to try the Nokia Lumia 900 Windows Phone.

Against the hubbub of rumoured announcements iOS 6, an Apple TV SDK, new Macs, and Apple’s answer to Google Maps, as well as rumours of a new version of Android, TechEd, with no ground-shaking announcements to make and a straight-up tutorial approach feels more like an excuse for people who work at places using Microsoft technologies to take a break from work on the company dime without sacrificing precious vacation days. That’s not to say that there aren’t people who are excited to be there or that they’re not doing useful stuff (we probably owe the fact that we can pick up detergent and TV sets at Walmart to people running and maintaining MS Tech); it’s just that from an outside perspective, they seem like Twilight fans: a force to be reckoned with, but when you look at what they’re into, you’re tempted to ask “Really? That’s what you spend all that time and effort on?”

I think the most telling thing about TechEd was a Channel 9 live broadcast I just saw, during which my friend and former co-worker Joey Snow was interviewing the guy who created PowerShell, the shell-scripting system for Windows. He talked about a guy who was considering learning Scala and wondered aloud why anyone would want to do that. He said that five years down the line, PowerShell would be the more valuable line item on your resume than something like Scala (he said that resume scanning software would put you in the delete bin). This “Not Invented Here”, short-term community-college-style, old-school FUD, resume-padding-uber-alles, death-of-intellectual-curiosity, lack-of-imagination-and-learning-different-things mode of thinking that has worked its way through many parts of The Empire like a brain cancer and is only speeding up the IBMification of Microsoft.

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