Microsoft may can giant TechEd in Australia


news Software giant Microsoft is considering a radical overhaul to its giant TechEd event in Australia that would essentially spell the end of the iconic conference in its traditional mega-format, with the company instead believed to be considering a series of smaller conferences around Australia in its place.

For those IT professionals who work closely with Microsoft software, and especially the company’s widespread developer community, the trek to the company’s annual TechEd conference has become something of a global pilgrimage.

The local event is typically held at the Gold Coast Convention and Exhibition Centre in September each year (as well as locations in other countries on a rolling basis), and features a bevy of imported technical leaders giving keynotes about Microsoft products and wider trends, as well as dedicated training and education sessions on virtually every topic possible to discuss about Microsoft products. Microsoft’s extensive partner ecosystem also attends and presents, and there are numerous parties, dinners, networking events and giveaways (including the iconic TechEd bags, seen above) each year.

However, over the past month speculation has increasingly focused in Australia’s technical community about whether Microsoft is still planning to hold its annual TechEd conference in Australia. The dates for TechEd New Zealand 2014 have been announced (9 to 12 September), but Microsoft has not confirmed the Australian dates for the local event.

Delimiter has received unverified information to the effect that squabbles between Microsoft Australia’s internal divisions about how the event would be funded have meant the event is likely to be drastically reshaped in Australia this year and may end up being organised as a series of smaller events rather than the one large mega-conference over several days.

Microsoft Australia would not provide extended details about its local plans for TechEd Australia 2014, but instead issued a brief statement noting an announcement about the conference was imminent: “TechEd is Microsoft’s premier technical education event for IT Professionals and Enterprise Developers. While we are always looking at new ways in which to engage and excite our technical communities, there is certainly no truth in the rumours that we have cancelled TechEd 2014. We intend to announce details for this year’s event within the coming days.”

If Microsoft does dial down TechEd in Australia in 2014, the move will come as part of a wider trend towards decreasing the importance of such large conferences in Australia. Networking giant Cisco, for example, which used to host its giant Networkers conference in Australia in a similar fashion to TechEd, now opts for a less high-profile event called Cisco Live.

And even the giant CeBIT conference held each May has been forced into reshaping itself for this year’s event starting next Monday 5 May, with the event to be held significantly away from Sydney’s central business district in Olympic Park, due to the ongoing reconstruction of the Sydney Convention and Exhibition Centre in Darling Harbour.

However, any move to cut down TechEd in Australia will come as a significant disappointment to much of Microsoft’s local IT professional and developer community, which has long viewed the event both as a significant educational and networking experience, but also as a chance to get away from the daily grind to the Gold Coast for a work-oriented excursion with like-minded souls.

I have to say, radically reshaping TechEd as Microsoft appears to be planning to do has its good points and its bad points. If the conference does go to a series of smaller events around Australia, there is no doubt that it will be harder for Microsoft Australia to attract the big international keynote speakers for such events, and many conference attendees will be disappointed by the lack of the big centralised event on the Gold Coast.

However, Microsoft’s product cycle has recently changed significantly due to the onset of the cloud computing paradigm, meaning it largely no longer has many huge products on one, two or three year refresh cycles that it needs to get its developer and IT professional community educated on in one big event each year. It may suit the company better to have a series of smaller events, perhaps held more regularly to reflect ongoing education.

I’ve been to quite a few TechEds in Australia over the years. I, and many others, share an emotion for the conference which can only be described as a deep fondness. There are so many memories — both during the day and at the parties at night. However, things do move on, and all good things come to an end. Perhaps it’s that time for TechEd Australia.

Let’s just hope Microsoft continues to give out those backpacks every year anyway. I still see them everywhere — airports, at other conferences, around the CBD. They’re an iconic part of Australia’s technology landscape.

Image credit: Microsoft


  1. Ive been to two at the gold coast, and I agree, with their rapid release method taking the fore they need to be more prominent in peoples faces to sell their products..

    Having said that *I’m utterly sick and tired* of having to plan going from WA all the way to the ugly tourist trap that is the gold coast .

    There is a LOT of money to be had in Perth/WA. Stop treating us like the distant cousin that your family forces you to talk to.
    Bring here.

    • If this is true, I fear it will be like many of the other smaller MSFT events, which hit Brisbane, Sydney, Melbourne, us in WA regularly miss out.

      • Hey at least Perth gets the occasional visit, Darwin misses out completely. Except for HP who do make the occasional visit. Although I’m expecting to move to the GC at the end of year and looking for a more IT roll and opposed to a hybrid roll I’m in at the moment, so would look forward to actually being able to attend a techED

      • You can moan and groan about WA missing out on things or you can pack up your bags and move to the East Coast like I did. No point wasting your life waiting around for stuff!

  2. Reminds me of what happened here in Canada. We had started in 05 or so having one big conference in Toronto, then they felt they weren’t getting the best bang for their buck so it switched into events across 8 cities in Canada. Then that was deemed to expensive and they canned those about 3 years ago. Now they will sponsor another 3rd party conference and their DPE team holds product specific camps.

  3. I don’t get out to TechED because I don’t have the time – if we had local events it would be far more feasible for engineers and even executives to attend. As it is I rely heavily on Microsoft’s online training resources and TechNet – might not be quite as fun, but gets to the meat of the issue far more efficiently anyway. I’ve found key Microsoft engineers and designers are quite approachable and helpful (as long as you’re not being lazy and wasting their time).

  4. TechED AU is a lot less necessary these days simply because they put the videos of all the US and Europe sessions up on the internet. Something they didn’t do until the last few years. So given that you can see most of what is delivered in Oz for free months before by downloading videos, why bother.

  5. It would be a terrible idea to can TechEd AU or break it up. Sure the videos are available from the US, but that is not the same as being there, discussing things with peers and asking questions during and after. Also, getting away from work allows me to have dedicated time to attend sessions, speak with vendors, do hand-on labs, raise issues with experts and network with peers. Oh yeah, I often watch some of the US techED content at the same time in the evenings. Being away from work (and home) gives me this freedom.

    Whilst I love the parties and social events, these don’t matter to me as much as having dedicated time to learn, mingle with peers and speak face-to-face with experts that I wouldn’t get to do normally. (had lunch with Scott Guthrie last year and got to ask him a few questions on Azure!!)

    The conference sells out every year for a reason. It’s awesome. breaking it up into smaller events would allow me to get away to maybe one interstate event, but certainly wouldn’t let me get to them all.

    Seriously.. why screw with something that works so well, offers so much for so little and gets all the IT guys so enthused!

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