With the Belgian Developer & IT-Pro Days 2006 a couple of days behind us, it's time for a write-up of this event. Let's have a look at the stats:

  • 1200 Attendees
  • 20 Partners
  • 7 User Groups
  • 3 Keynotes
  • 53 Sessions

1200 Attendees: As Tom blogged the event was sold-out on Thursday March 2nd. We reached 1200 people, both developers and it-pro's.

20 Partners: Our Gold, Silver and Media sponsors made it possible to organize the event.

7 User Groups: We are increasing our focus on reaching out to developers and IT Professionals through the community and relationship marketing. Organizing such an event is also a community effort. By having 7 user groups for developers as well as for it-pro's, the community together with Microsoft showed it's commitment to finding innovative ways where the attendees and the customers can benefit from. These innovative ways can be described by 4 keywords: Transparency, Vibrant Community, Partner Ecosystem and Customer Feedback.

Transparency: Think about the number of CTP's and beta builds we've been making available since 2004, tons of blogs and the MSDN Developer Centers.
Vibrant Community: Think about our 2 Belgian
Regional Directors (Peter and Grégory), the 3000 Microsoft Most Valuable Professionals, the thousands of messages in newsgroups, etc. Great tools cannot exist without vibrant communities of developers and it-pro's. It is only through valuable community interaction that a truly productive tool can be created. Hopefully you have taken notice that we are making a concerted effort to improve the way we interact with you. We’re spending an increasing amount of time communicating with you via blogging, web casts, channel9, newsgroup participation, and through events like this.
Partner Ecosystem: Currently we have over 200 partners and over 400 products worldwide. We’ve received a ton of very postive feedback already from our 20 partners and customers present at our Developer & IT-Pro Days. We managed to make this event a success thanks to the support of our local partners.
Customer Feedback: We have a pretty diverse group of customers, all of whom are contributing to the success of our products. We’re also taking many of the great product suggestions through our
feedback program (Ladybug). Additionally we're also taking all feedback to improve the customer experience at our events. Thank you for your continual feedback, now, and in the future.

Yes, Microsoft will continue to invest in outreach to help developers and IT Pros to be more successful – through better events, more web casts and improved MSDN and TechNet web sites. Listening to the vibes and voices of the community is important for Microsoft.
Let's have a look at the 7 user groups that had a booth at our event:

3 Keynotes: On Tuesday morning we had the keynote delivered by Wilfried Grommen, GM Business Strategy at Microsoft EMEA, who kicked-off our two-day event by explaining the overall theme of the event: "The Connected Generation". Other topics covered by Wilfried were the approaching launch of Team Foundation Server, Windows Server 2003 R2, BizTalk Server 2006, Virtual Server 2005 R2, 2007 Office system, Windows Vista and Windows Live. For delivering the demos during this keynote we received great support from our EMEA team: Dave Webster and Hans Verbeeck. Dave did a good job by showing the new UI of the 2007 Office system, some of the new capabilities in Word and Excel and the new open XML file format. For most of the attendees it was the first time they saw the new Office version. Next on stage was Hans who showed some of the exciting features in Windows Vista: the Aero Glass look and feel, some live coded XAML, Super-Fetch (aka Hans and his USB device), UAC, etc. The last demo was a quick tour of Windows Live and some of the Microsoft gadgets.
We had a lot of work preparing the keynote. Thanks to the commitment of
Ritchie, Hans, Dave, Arlindo and - last but not least - Wilfried, we were able to deliver this keynote. Read Hans' blog post for a better insight on how everyone of us was involved in the preparation of the keynote.
All software (Windows Vista February CTP and Office 12 beta 1) showed during the keynote ran on
Acer Ferrari 4000 notebooks. Excellent 64-bit hardware but the ATI graphics card drivers are clearly still in beta!
The closing keynote of day one was delivered by
Rob Creemers, market analyst and trend watcher. Check Luc's review of this keynote "The Networked Society" in his post "At Microsoft event, Dutch trendwatcher talks about converging technologies".
The third keynote was also the closing keynote of the event "Get Connected" and was delivered by
Rafal Lukawiecki. Rafal, a very well-know and highly appreciated speaker, talked about what's next on the Microsoft platform. Another excellent closing keynote.

53 Sessions: But of course more important were the break-out sessions. Over two days we had 53 technical sessions. Being the content owner for the developer tracks, this event marked the Belgian technical launch of 2007 Office system and WinFX. I also covered some of the recently launched products like Team Foundation Server, Windows Mobile 5.0 and SQL Server 2005 for developers. To complete the agenda I picked some interesting topics such as agile methodologies, ASP.NET 2.0 and Atlas.
On day one I decided having two tracks: one covering the most important new features of the 2007 Office system (by
Hans, Jan and Joris) and one covering the three pillars of WinFX. Especially the WinFX sessions, hosted by Christian Weyer and Bart De Smet, were very well attended. Another popular session was the ASP.NET 2.0: Atlas one, hosted by Rédo and Alain.
Day 2 kicked off with the popular Vista Mania session and a SQL Server 2005 overview. On the developer side we had the popular ASP.NET 2.0 sessions and the well attended Best Practices sessions.
The mix of
international and local speakers was well-appreciated by the attendees. Most of the feedback gathered right after the sessions was positive. Some people even found it difficult to pick one of the parallel sessions. The good news here is that the most popular session were recorded and will be made available to the attendees later on. All of the attendees interested in 2007 Office system and/or Windows Vista should subscribe to the Microsoft BetaExperience.
Last interesting fact to note is that this year I tried to leverage speakers from our local communities together with some international speakers. Most of them - if not all - are active in the community and do have a blog.

The first day of the event was concluded by a Geek dinner, organized by Peter Himschoot. It was a real success. The geek dinner turned out to be a "geeks-meet-the-speaker-dinner" but I think everyone was happy to be there. Thanks Peter for organizing!

Wrapping-up: As a conclusion of this two day event I'd like to stress that all people I talked to found it extremely well organized. Thanks Tom & Ritchie! The community was omnipresent and there was a lot of interaction between attendees, partners and Microsoft. Hopefully "The Connected Generation" enjoyed this event as much as I did. Thanks!

Below are some post-Developer & IT-Pro posts. Check them out if you want to know what the Belgian bloggers found about it: