Last week we were delighted to join more than 2,000 technology professionals at TechEd New Zealand 2012.

A strong theme of this year’s keynote was the use of technology to make data human: Useful, exciting, beautiful, and even fun! It may not be the first thing that comes to mind when looking at a page of numbers, but keynote speaker Jer Thorp (Data Artist in Residence, New York Times) showed with great humour and conviction exactly how to achieve it.

Jer Thorp, Data Artist

Continuing the theme of making data human, Hon Amy Adams (Minister of Communications and Information Technology) discussed the data that Government collect and make freely available for businesses and developers to gain insight and build great applications. The Government’s data.govt.nz website now boasts almost 2,000 sets of open data.

Hon Amy Adams at the Welcome Reception

We were pleased to announce a contest to build Windows 8 apps that make use of New Zealand data, for New Zealanders. The contest is open to all New Zealand residents, and we’re giving away five Windows RT slates to the contest winners as an extra incentive for people to get involved.

The dozen tertiary students running the Windows 8 lounge provided demonstrations of just how easy it is to develop apps for Windows 8. I was interested to learn that there are even free app templates that allow people to get started by copying and pasting in their content, and making a few simple tweaks (following step-by-step instructions) to the HTML5 and Javascript code.

TechEd New Zealand has been run by Microsoft for the last 17 years, with the millions of dollars we invest each year in conducting more than a hundred sessions led by world technology leaders from NZ and around the globe paid for by ticket sales and contributions from our wonderful sponsors and exhibitors. As well as the loyal support we received again from HP as Platinum Sponsor, the event was made possible by ACE Training, Provoke Solutions, snap!, and Vista Entertainment Solutions. The exhibitor displays this year were better than ever, and there was a lot of fun to be had too.

HP proved their wireless equipment was weather-proof by submerging it in a fish tank. Intergen had their racing simulators running hot, with beautiful leader-boards and tracking to subtly show off a bit of their data visualisation expertise. Vista Entertainment Solutions served coffee orders by the thousands.

Slot car racing by Fujitsu at their exhibitor stand
Microsoft has recently made a number of announcements about new innovations, and we were pleased to feature many of these at our own exhibit in the Hub.  The New Office sponsored the welcome reception, a showcase of Kiwi organisations that are taking advantage of Microsoft cloud services was on display, Roborazzi the robotic photographer roamed around doing its job, and delegates went hands-on with Windows 8 on everything from smokin’ gaming rigs, fine looking laptops, slates, and even the world’s largest touchscreen display. 

Delegates try out Windows 8 on an 82 inch Perceptive Pixel touch screen

We were delighted to kick off the global launch of Windows Server 2012 from TechEd New Zealand on 5 September.

Windows Server 2012 is new technology that brings technology and experience from Microsoft’s public cloud services and makes it available to any organisation so that they can build their own cloud services – easier, better, and cheaper than before.
 
Of course, TechEd would not feel complete without TechFest. This year the IT part of the year was held at the Cloud (Queens Wharf, Auckland) and it featured The Feelers, Minuit, and MC Jesse Mulligan.

The Cloud lit up for TechFest

There were also some great events before and after TechEd that should be mentioned. Before the conference, we hosted hands-on Windows 8 Developer Camps and a Business Intelligence Academy. After TechEd, the Microsoft community again organised and hosted a fantastic full-day Code Camp event.

We know that not everyone can be at the event (or attend every session even if they were), so we’re now in the process of uploading sessions to the TechEd section on Channel 9, where they can be viewed by anyone free of charge at their convenience.

By Waldo Kuipers, Corporate Affairs Manager, Microsoft New Zealand Limited

TechEd 2012 event photos by Ollie Dale of www.photonz.com.