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Over the past few weeks, I've been mentioning the Visual Studio 2008 InstallFest parties on my blog and have received a lot of great questions and comments about it.  Here's the latest version of "what's what" on the InstallFest, including what's going to happen, when it's going to happen, and what you can do to be a part of it.

To celebrate the RTM of Visual Studio 2008, Microsoft is teaming up with some of the local area User Groups to throw a set of Holiday Party InstallFests.  We've got 3 of them scheduled for South Central District:

These holiday parties will feature food, drink, fun - including several Xbox 360s in HD with some of the latest games, fellowship and a chance to install the RTM bits of Visual Studio 2008 along with your friends! In fact, EVERYONE THAT REGISTERS FOR AND ATTENDS THE EVENT IN PERSON WILL RECEIVE A FREE COPY OF VISUAL STUDIO 2008 PROFESSIONAL IN THE MAIL ONCE IT'S AVAILABLE!  As an added bonus - if you install Visual Studio 2008 on your computer during the event, we'll give you a free Visual Studio T-Shirt! So - no sneaky register-for-the-event-and-then-not-show-up action - you must be present to win :-)

Since we're giving away free product, we've had to put a cap on registrations - so register now and make sure you attend to get your free copy of Visual Studio 2008 Professional.  If registrations are full, the waitlist should be enabled, so get on it.  If you don't make it on the registration or waitlist list, don't fret - walk-ins are totally welcome, and we'd love to have you join us at the party!  If there is any product left over after all the registered and wait-listed folks get theirs, you'll be next in line to get one :-)

Besides the InstallFest parties, there are several other opportunities coming up for you to get your free copy of Visual Studio 2008 including the DevCares events in Nov and Dec, the actual Launch Events (starting in February) and the Community Launch Events (which will happen some time after the main launch events).  I'll post some more information on these last 2 items in a future post.

So - please help us spread the word and come down to join us for the Visual Studio 2008 InstallFest and Holiday Parties with your local area user groups!  As usual, if you have any questions, please let me know.  For now, I'll try to provide a basic Q&A based on the feedback and questions I've received already.

Q&A:

Q:  What version of Visual Studio will I get, and how will the free version upgrade work?
A:  You will be installing a copy of Visual Studio 2008 Professional Trial Edition at the event.  This is a specially created 90-day evaluation of VS08Pro - it is NOT the same thing that is available today from Microsoft Downloads.   Once you receive your free copy of Visual Studio 2008 in the mail, you will be able to enter the product key from the packaging into VS08 and "unlock" it.  The unlocking process will only work for the PRO trial edition that you get at the InstallFest - the version from Microsoft Downloads or MSDN will NOT be unlockable and will require an uninstall/re-install to get the proper version installed.

Q:  Isn't Visual Studio 2008 RTM already publicly available?  Why do I need to come to this party?
A:  Several reasons - first, the opportunity to have some fun over the holidays with your local user groups!  Second, we are giving away FREE copies of Visual Studio 2008 Professional to registered attendees in the mail following the product launch. 

Q:  Do I have to bring my laptop to the event?
A:  No, you don't. But - if you install the bits at the party, we'll give you a free T-shirt

Q:  What if I don't have a laptop - can I bring my Desktop?  Will there be room/power?
A:  Yes!  Please do - we're looking for volunteers to bring their monitors + keyboards + mice to the event so that not everyone else needs to.  If you're interested in helping us this way, please let me know.

Q: Can I bring a friend?
A:  Absolutely!  Bring 2!  Just remember that you have to be registered, or on the wait list, for a chance to win free product.

Q:  Does this InstallFest party cost anything to attend?
A:  Nope - it's absolutely FREE to all attendees!

Q:  Does this replace the normal .NET User Group meeting in my city?
A:  Yes - there aren't any plans to have additional meetings, but there will be plenty of .NET conversations going on around the party, I'm sure :-)

Q: I can't go to this event - can I still get a free copy of Visual Studio 2008 somewhere else?
A: There are several other events coming up that will give you additional chances at getting free product including the next round of DevCares events, the "official" product launch events starting at the end of February, and some post-release Community Launch events starting in March (more on that in a future post).

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