Guy Shahine's Blog

Three Days at Microsoft’s PDC

How was PDC this year?

Last week (Nov. 17-19), Microsoft gathered around developers, architects, media, etc.. at the Convention Center in LA in an event called Professional Developer Conference (PDC09). Unlike previous years where Microsoft used to announce new products at PDC, this year was more focused on accomplishing the announcements that were made before, for example: the launch of Windows Azure and the launch of Windows 7, or what’s coming up in the next version of previously released Microsoft products, for example: Microsoft Visual Studio 2010, Microsoft Office 2010, Microsoft Internet Explorer 9, Microsoft Silverlight 4.

Who am I?

I’m a developer on the Windows Azure team and in the past year and a half, I was part of the on-boarding team where I work closely with developers that are building services on top of Windows Azure platform.

Guy Shahine

Windows Azure at PDC

The Windows Azure lounge was one of the busiest places for three consecutive days (there is a Lebanese saying: “The monkey is a gazelle in the eyes of his mother”, but I’m telling the truth here). Everyone seemed interested and people were lining up for three hours to get a spot for the hands on labs (alright, we were giving a flip camera for every attendee that finishes one lab exercise and one Windows Azure session, but the third day we ran out of cameras and the labs were still full). Oh, and did I mention the container? Windows Azure had a datacenter container on site. The container is a smaller version than the original ones but it was still very exciting to see one of them.

Windows Azure Container

I was fortunate to be helping in the hands-on labs, where I had the chance to stumble upon people who were only interested in getting the camera instead of taking the opportunity to learn something. The best one was a lady in her 50s who waited in line for like two hours, and I was very happy to see a dedicated person that can’t wait to play with the labs (the thought of her waiting for a camera didn’t cross my mind for 2 seconds) until she made a typo while following the lab walkthrough and she called me to ask what does the underlying red zigzag means under her using statement and that her application is not running when hitting the “run” button. What did I do? Well, I gave her a stamp and sent her in piece for her little camera. The second best one was from a person with an eastern European accent, who skipped the 3 hours like and came directly to me: “Look, I am not a programmer and I don’t know how to write code, but I want the camera and there is no point for me to wait in line and reserve a station, so can you give me a stamp?”, I replied: “no”, He replied: “But why?”, I replied: “If you wait in line and your turn arrives I’ll personally give you a stamp without the need to finish the lab”, he ran away 🙂 .

Windows Azure Hands-on labs queue

Overall, the experience was awesome and the customers were very interested. Many of the attendees had very good questions and feedback, others were still interesting which led me to write this blog post 🙂 .