Guest post by Paulette Suddarth, Microsoft senior events marketing manager

Next Monday in Atlanta, GA, marks the launch of the 19th annual Microsoft Tech·Ed North America conference, where thousands of developers and IT professionals will gather to get the latest on more than 90 current and soon-to-be-released Microsoft products. And MVPs will be there in force.

As respected technology experts and community leaders, the conference looks to MVPs as authorities on how Microsoft technologies are put to work each day. MVPs are offered permanent early-bird discounts to attend, and they often are sought-after speakers at this prestigious event.

This year, around a quarter of the speakers at Tech·Ed will come from outside of Microsoft—of those, an impressive 50% are MVPs. You can find the full line-up here.

That’s not the only way MVPs contribute. You’ll find them all around the four-day conference, lending their expertise at hands-on labs and booths.

If this is your first Tech·Ed, I recommend taking a few minutes to listen to ASP.NET MVP Richard Campbell’s .Net Rocks! Interview, Tech·Ed 101. Richard shares his secrets for getting the most from the conference, as well as describing his work as a judge at this year’s Speaker Idol and the 64 Bit Question game show.

For MVPs, Tech·Ed also offers a chance to gain deeper community engagement through private side sessions. These have been organized by MVP Lead Heather Kostes who, along with Garth O’Brien, will be hosting the MVP Community Lounge in the Technical Learning Center. Look for them next week, and watch their quick interview now about heading off to Tech·Ed.