It's the Season of PDC

It's the Season of PDC

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We're another milestone closer to the PDC, with the opening of the registration site. If you register before July 15th, the conference fee is $1,695. It's something we don't often make a big deal of, but most people are rarely aware of what a small percentage of the actual cost of attendance is covered by a registration fee. When I was involved with the planning of TechEd Europe last year, this was really driven home to me - these conferences are not big profit centers for Microsoft, as some people imagine, but rather they're something of a financial risk - many of the costs are sunk regardless of whether the attendance is 1 person or 10,000 people. Registration fees offset a good chunk of the costs, for sure, but most large-scale conferences rely heavily on sponsorship and exhibition booths also. By the time you account for the fact that most of the product group are giving their time and expenses "for free", it starts to become clear that if you attend a conference like the PDC, you're actually getting significantly more for your money than is apparent due to the investment others are making in you.

The PDC is a special conference, too. It looks ahead to the future and tries to help people understand the platform roadmap and the big seismic changes that will take place in the next five years or so in the developer landscape. That forward focus inevitably means that sometimes plans change and are overtaken by events (Hailstorm is a painful example of that), but to an extent the conference isn't about API reviews, but instead about the broader picture. Most people would be astonished at how this conference acts as a forcing function to get product teams to really focus on the hard questions; the PDC is also an incredibly intensive week for getting feedback on what we're doing right and wrong, and shaping our plans more crisply (bringing WinFX downlevel was one example of how we've made big changes based on customer feedback from the PDC). But whilst the PDC is about high-level strategic direction, it's also a deeply developer-driven event - this year more than any other, we're increasing the number of deep 400+ level sessions that could only be delivered by someone from the product group who has been living and breathing the product and the architectural trade-offs that have been made.

I'm sure I'll write more about the PDC as it gets closer - I think I posted about 50 blog entries from the PDC last time, covering all manner of sessions - but for now I wanted to share a few other fun PDC-related resources:

  • Convince the Boss. A fun attempt to give you some ammo to convince the "powers that be" that your attendance at the PDC is the most critical business decision that they'll have to make this year, with a direct effect on the bottom line that will have shareholders dancing for joy!
  • Code Your Way to the PDC. The next step is to stand at the street corner with a "will code for food" sign, but Jeff's team (in particular Mike Lehman) have put together a shareware contest where you can enter Whidbey code into a competition to win an all-expenses paid trip to the PDC.
  • Blog Your Way to the PDC. Ready to be a paid shill like me :) ? You can tell the world your sob story - why your wife, children and cat left you because you were spending too much time in front of a computer, and if you can extract a tear from a panel of stony-hearted judges, that might be enough to get you there...
  • Vote Underwear. If you do nothing else, for the sake of your fellow attendees, please bring your underwear...

See you around!

  • Yes, its cerainly true that the entrance fee to the PDC is only a small part of the cost. Sadly this is the first year for a while (5 years) that my contracing work just hasn't cut it - by that I mean I have been lucky to be in constant work, but I'm earning less than I was 3,4,5 years ago and consequently this is the first PDC that I don't think I will be able to attend.

    I can probbably scrape together the money for the conference, but its the loss of income,air fare,hotel fees etc that is the killer. Shame, PDC represents 'playtime' for most of us.
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