I am here in Tel Aviv with some of the members of my team as part of the Visual C++ Accelerator Tour. We are showing off some of the essential new features of Visual C++ 2005 that are coming your way later this year. I was personally tapped to speak about the IDE (obviously!) in the form of a demo. I focused on how the IDE can help you be more productive than ever before, whether during editing, building or debugging. I should add that this event is my first speaking opportunity with Microsoft and I have two words to sum up the experience so far: wow and daunting. The attendance for our first day of talks and demos was over 1000 people. While I am happy to see that Israel continues to have such a thriving software (and hardware) development community, it sure made my task quite a bit more unnerving. I kept trying to channel some of my older brother, who got all the public speaking genes in the family. I hope people felt that my demo was useful, that my performance was adequate and that all the Visual C++ 6.0 users in the audience finally felt that 2005 was the right year for them to switch. The amount of questions we all got was unbelievable and I hope the small number of answers I was able to give were satisfactory. On the other hand, there were also plenty of *great* suggestions for the IDE and I fully intend to bring that feedback back to Redmond as we start planning our post-2005 release(s). I think the best part of the event is how easily we interacted with everyone and how I genuinely felt that the audience was excited to talk to members of the product team.

We've got another full day of activities today: we are going to hold a Porting Lab for some local customers. The name "Porting Lab" is actually a bit of a misnomer as all you systems gurus out there would no doubt point out. Indeed, the main goal of the lab is to migrate codebases from Visual C++ 6.0, 7.0, or 7.1 to Visual C++ 2005. Although I would add that some people want help moving to 64 bit and that can be considered porting ;)

On a lighter note, it feels great to be back in Israel after 11 years :) Our team even made a short trip to Jerusalem on Sunday and I thought it was interesting to see how different the visit can be when looking from a non-Jewish perspective. There are some things I would have liked to re-visit now that I am a little older but it simply means I won't wait as long for my next visit.

I'd like to add a heartfelt Thank You to Yosi and מיכל who have helped tremendously to set up the whole event.