Last year we declared “Geek Week” in Seattle to be the convergence of the long-time MVP Summit, our own conference and the MacTech Boot Camp that all occurred in a seven-day period. This year, the situation was slightly different with Microsoft Research’s TechFest and the MacTech Boot Camp II occurring last week in Seattle. I’ll report on both here.
Each year, Microsoft Research holds a futuristic event known as TechFest in Seattle. It’s an opportunity to show off the future to both internal employees and select members of the press, public and invited analysts. I was honored to be among the chosen ones.
To be honest, I was outclassed and surrounded by much smarter people than myself at TechFest. There is a school of thought in management that you should surround yourself with smarter, wiser,( and even prettier) people (the old “B students hire A students” mantra). What I witnessed was the significant R&D industry investment Microsoft is making topping $9.5B USD (that is more than IBM and Oracle combined according to InformationWeek. This group, Microsoft Research, even has more PHds than most Ivy League colleges! I was getting intellectually high off this rare air!
Back to reality: I keyed in on two booths that addressed online education. One was the next-generation electronic text book; the other was the presentation of short learning lessons much like the free video lectures offered today by the Khan Academy. The Seattle Times took another angle to this event here, focusing on natural user interface, big data and machine learning.
Is Convergence Finally Here?
In addition, last week, the MacTech Boot Camp in Seattle brought together a robust audience of Apple aficionados. So intrigued was I that I attended part of both days. The first day (Tuesday) focused on an Office for Mac accreditation. Monday was the full-on robust workshop featuring a variety of Macintosh-centric topics including mobility, storage and Office as seen here.
Overall, the attendees seemed extremely satisfied with the content and the conference. You can learn more about future venues and dates of this show here.
My keen interest in observing the boot camp was to detect if the convergence between the Mac and PC/Windows/Microsoft/Evil Empire communities are growing or declining. On the surface, I’d say the two communities are closer than ever. SMB environments are well known for having to support, but “camps” and several people I spoke with at lunch do exactly that. One sponsor, Parallels, underscores the convergence of the two sides working together with its ability to virtualize a Windows session on a Macintosh.
But let me take it one step further. Parallels is a good example. It has a Macintosh-centric division that sponsored the MacTech II workshop yesterday. It also has a cloud platform division that competes with Citrix in the race to create a community of cloud distributors and service brokers. It’s a world, quite frankly, I know well. In both my lunch conversations and in talking with the Parallels rep, it became apparent that the Mac “heads” are not as keen on the cloud CSP world of virtualization and the like (and the PC Windows “heads” are). In that since, there are still two distinct communities. My hope and desire is that more of the MacTech attendees would be open and receptive to a conversation about cloud services, virtualization and even virtual desktops. But, alas, such is not the case.
So I’ll leave my rambling there. It was a great day, great lunch, and I’m truly excited by the convergence possibilities between our two communities. But my expectations are also managed.