We all go to events with different intentions. TechEd 2012 in Orlando was my chance to feed my inner tech, while WPC 2012 was my chance to reconnect with some old workmates, and see what the big opportunities are going to be in the world of Microsoft technologies in 2012.

One of the things that many thought was strange was the lack of Surface devices in keynotes or in the expo area. My take on this is that it would have been disrespectful to hardware partners, especially Fujitsu and HP who were two of the major sponsors. Another good reason would have been traffic management of the people wanting to see the device. The Toronto Convention Centre would not be well equipped for that type

The announcements for Windows 8 RTM and GA were well received, and fell in line with expectations based on prior OS history. The announcements of Office 365 via Open was a bittersweet announcement for some Australian partners. Knowing that this option would not be implemented in Australia for an extended time period, and then it being referenced in many of the breakout sessions, rubbed salt into some wounds.

Thankfully for me, my ties to a certain Telstra aligned Office 365 partner in Australia means that any delays in implementing this locally don’t really have an impact on me. It does, however, raise the question of when Windows Intune will also be available via Open. Again, this isn’t a big problem for us today, but moving forward, more options may be useful. There are other changes to Windows Intune licensing that I would prefer to see, such as a cheaper no-Windows client upgrade rights version, and a way for System Center customers to get a price break for deploying Windows Intune instead of System Center components.

I wanted to head along to some of the MPN Small Business Competency sessions to hear global feedback on the Office 365 element of this, as I think this is something that is going to hurt its adoption. Unfortunately there were session clashes with other things I needed to see, so hopefully the recordings are available at some point. As it stands, the currently available Office 365 exams are way too enterprise focused. If there was an exam based on the P1 plan capabilities, with either of the current exams as an elective, I think there is a better chance that more small business partners would be tempted by the competency, but the partner team can only work with what the certification team provide. That said, these two teams have been doing a much better job of working together, with the new MCSA MCP competency essentially becoming the exam requirements for the  MPN Virtualization and Management competency.

I have to give a big thanks to Paul from the Windows Intune team for getting me a replacement Windows To Go drive when mine proved unbootable. The upside of this that I have an extra 32GB USB3 flash drive, and once I get home, it’s time to cull my USB drive collection. The last time I did this I gave away anything under 1GB. Now I think I need to raise that bar to anything that I can’t put a Windows PE plus Windows installation source onto.

As I previously posted, Windows RT is something that is moving into the territory of cautious optimism for some deployment and usage scenarios. For now, I have to wait for a device, but I have reached out to my hardware channel contacts to see what’s floating around, so I can at least get an idea of performance and whether my scenario ideas are actually workable.

There were many more things to see and do, and I’ve finished the week exhausted. I even had a 40 minute nap at the airport while waiting for my first flight of the return trip home. At the moment I’m somewhere between Toronto and Los Angeles, taking advantage of the inflight WiFi to get some work done. Oh, times have changed, and for the better!