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MVP Summit 2011 – Conference

For the last 10-12 years or more, I’ve wanted to get to the Microsoft campus in Seattle – and this week, I did !

As part of the MVP program, I had an invitation to attend session and meet up with the product team who have created SharePoint.

Day 1 : Monday

Shuttle bus early to ‘campus’, and stopped in to the Microsoft company store.  We each had an allowance of $120 to spend in the employee-only area – I picked up two computer mice for only $20 each – great new ‘arc’ mouse.

There is a visitors centre also, with some history items & such – and the new technology for Microsoft – Kinect, Surface and so forth.

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We had shuttle buses to take us to the various parts of the campus – it’s that big.   Lots of trees and great gardens, sporting ovals and the like – just like a university campus – intentionally.

They have a massive (!) food court area, and even a few mobile phone retailers, and banks, post office – and even a bike shop !

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Sessions :  The day began with an ASP.NET session with Scott Guthrie – great to see him speak, I’d seen videos & read his blog – was good to see him.

Did an Office 365 lab – and then over to another room for some SharePoint sessions.  Talking about vNext for SharePoint – and lots of great discussion with MVP’s telling the product team what they’re experiencing in the field – and problems/frustrations from customers & users.

The evening ‘party’ was a reception in the Grand Ballroom at the Hyatt – chatted to lots of people over dinner – some from Canada, America, Germany, Holland, Belgium, Switzerland – and more.

I found that I had some great ‘single-serving’ conversations on the bus to/from the Microsoft Campus – was chatted to one guy who turned out to be Miguel Iscaza (??) who had created Mono – C# for Linux – wow !

After the reception night, a bunch of SharePoint MVP’s headed to a bar nearby (Red Rock ?) – good to chat to some people who I’ve seen on email/blogs – and I had a few “oh, YOU’RE Grumpy Wookie” – LOL !

Day 2 : Tuesday

Again, up early, and over to a different place for the ‘keynote’ – with Steve Ballmer.  We managed to get in the third row, so had a great view.   He’s very energetic – and a great speaker – but I could tell he was very guarded in what he was saying – he openly admitted that it was like a “press conference” – no secrets or NDA material.

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There were a few other speakers, talking about Office 365 & the cloud – and the MVP program in general.  

Then – they brought out the Seattle Mariner’s Moose – the mascot for the Seattle baseball team – who jumped and danced through the crowd.

After that, we headed back to the Microsoft Campus for some more SharePoint session.   I stopped in to visit Frank Arrigo (frankarr) who I’d known from Microsoft Tech.Ed and the developer community – before he’d moved to Australia.

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Tuesday night outing was the product team night at Lucky Strike bowling – had a bunch of (strong) bourbons – and chatted to more MVP’s – great contacts & networking.   Unfortunately, there were barely any of the SharePoint product team in attendance – a little disappointing to say the least.

Back to the hotel to “Skype” to the wife & kids – time difference meant that I could call at midnight – and they were just finishing dinner (6-7pm).

Day 3 : Wednesday

More sessions at the Microsoft Campus – lots of SharePoint stuff today.  Probably the best day of the three – with some break-out ‘topics’ to share feedback and input on difference facets of SharePoint.  I spoke about “social” with some of the MVP’s – and what we thought it would/should progress to be – with vNext.  Each group then presented their thoughts/ideas – with Microsoft product team taking notes.

I guess I’d expected more information FROM the team at Microsoft – but it turned out that it was the MVP’s who were providing input and comments TO the team.

With the timing of the three-year product cycles, it’s too early for them to show anything – but not too late for some input from the field – was good in that respect.  There were a bunch of comments from MVP’s – and Microsoft folk saying “oh, thanks – that’s something we hadn’t thought/considered”.

** My input was with relation to User Profiles – with a recent project wanting to import people data from a SQL database – but not NEED to have a user account in Active Directory – it sounds like they hadn’t considered this as something that people might need/want.  We’ll see what happens with that feature – and if my suggestion ends up in the final product (!)

Next year’s MVP Summit might have more to show – with vNext milestones progressing – they might even be able to show some early Alpha or Beta’s of it.

The ‘closing party’ evening was to follow – with the a night at Safeco field.  This is a massive baseball stadium, much like Melbourne’s MCG – but probably 1/2 the size – with a roof over the top !    We wandered through the underneath of the stadium, and out onto the playing field.   I paced out the distance from the home plate to 1st base – it was 25 strides for me – they run it soooo quickly !

You could test out your pitching arm, and batting as well – and have a photo in the dugout, or press conference room.   I bought a Mariner’s Moose for Charlie – and we chatted to a few folk – great to see Dave Lemphers (another ex-pat who I’m good friends with).

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The party wasn’t ‘great’ – with ordinary food – and worse beer – so we left about 9.30 – and went to see a movie !    (LOL !)    Another fun thing to do in America – at the cinema in Bellevue.  We watched HALL PASS – some great laughs, much like ‘The Hangover’, but about married couples with kids.

I say a quick hello to Eric Swift who is the product manager for SharePoint – he’s a great speaker – hope to see/hear more from him & team in the year/s ahead.

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And – with that – the Microsoft MVP Summit was OVER…!

For the most-part, it was a great conference – very different to a “Tech.Ed” – lots of very switched-on and experienced people – great to have similar viewpoints and project work – the networking is always the best part of these events.

And – I’d been expecting to learn about vNext, and the new features & products on the way – but it was more “Microsoft asking MVP’s about the problems in the field” – which was great to be a part of…

Next year ?

Would I attend next year ??   I guess it will depend if I’m renewed as an MVP first (!) – I think it would be a much better “time” in the product cycle – meaning that there should be some more content and show-and-tell – and hopefully we’d be able to meet some more of the product team.

Thanks Microsoft for a great three days !     And to all the MVP’s I met – thanks for the great conversations – see you ‘online’… 

Smile

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2 Responses

  1. This series is a great read Chris! You definitely made the most of the short time you had sightseeing! I’m insanely jealous that you met Miguel de Icaza – when I’ve heard him on podcasts he seems like a very interesting guy.

    I hope you’re right that the SharePoint team will be more forthcoming at the next MVP conference. I read a blog post from a SQL MVP who said MS used to be much more open, but now have a tendency to use MVPs to sell product features. In fact, here’s the post: http://www.brentozar.com/archive/2011/02/microsoft-mvp-summit/

    Keep up the good MVP work!

  2. […] MVP Summit 2011 – Conference […]

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