Build 2012, the first post

Yes, I was one of the lucky few who made it to Build. Build, formerly known as the Professional Developers Conference (or PDC) is the place to be if you are a developer on the Microsoft platform. Since I take my job seriously I took out some time on my busy schedule, sighed at the thought of not seeing my family for another week and signed up for it.

Now, before I talk about the amazing Surface devices (yes, this posting is written on one of them), the great Lumia 920 we all got, the long deserved love for touch, NUI and other things I have been talking about for years, I need to do some ranting. So if you are anxious to read about the technical goodies you’ll have to wait until the next post.

Still here? Good.

When I signed up for the Build conference during my holidays this summer it was pretty obvious that demand would be high. Therefor I made sure I was on time. But even though I registered only 7 minutes after the initial opening time the Early Bird discount for the first 500 attendees was already sold out. I later learned that registration actually started 5 minutes before the scheduled time but even though it is still impressive how fast things went. The whole event sold out in 57 minutes

Or so they say…

A lot of people got put on the waiting list. There was room for about 1500 attendees and I heard that at least 1000 people were on that waiting list, including a lot of people I know. Strangely, all of them got tickets assigned after 2 weeks.

Here at the conference I heard from a guy from Nokia that they had shipped 2500 Lumia 920 phones. That number matches the rumors that the organization added 1000 extra tickets. This, of course is no problem. I am not an elitist and I think large crowds have a special atmosphere that I quite like. But….

The Microsoft Campus is not equipped for that sheer volume of visitors. That was painfully obvious during on-site registration where people had to stand in line for over 2 hours. The conference is spread out over 2 buildings, divided by a 15 minute busride (yes, the campus is that big). I have seen queues of over 200 people waiting for the bus and when that arrived it had a capacity of 16. I can assure you: that doesn’t fit. This of course means that travelling from one site to the other might take about 30 minutes. So you arrive at the session room just in time, only to find out it’s full. Since you can’ get into that session you try to find another one but now you’re even more late so you have no chance at all of entering. The doors are closed and you’re told: “Well, you can watch the live stream online”. Mmmm… So I spend thousands of dollars, a week away from home, family and work to be told I can also watch the sessions online? Are you fricking kidding me?

I could go on but I won’t. You get the idea. It’s jus badly organized, something I am not really used to in my 20 years of experience at Microsoft events. Yes, I am disappointed. I hope a lot of people here in Redmond will also fill in the evals and that the organization next year will do a better job. Really, Build deserves better.


Print | posted @ Friday, November 2, 2012 2:29 AM

Comments on this entry:

Gravatar # re: Build 2012, the first post
by Austin Dimmer at 11/2/2012 4:02 AM

Dennis, thanks for the write-up.

Man, I feel your pain. I am a big NUI fan also. My company makes Voice Recognition software. I was at Build last year and it was a fantastic event. This year I also logged into the Build registration minutes after it had opened. The early bird pricing had run out and since my company is a cash strapped startup I decided not to register. Reading your post makes me feel sort of happy that I did not sign up, still part of me is very sad that I am not there networking with some really awesome folks. In my opinion that's the important thing about these conferences, not so much the sessions.

I wish you a safe trip home and I hope to meet you at Build next year!
Gravatar # re: Build 2012, the first post
by Julian Easterling at 11/5/2012 8:21 PM

I went to Build2011 in Anaheim and it was great, ~5000 attendees. The year before that I ween to PDC2010 at the Microsoft Campus, ~1500 attendees, and it was horrible. That year it was only at their conference center, unless you count the lunch tent in the nearby soccer field. I decided at that point that I would never go back to a conference at the Microsoft Campus... Sounds like my feelings were correct. Let's hope that Microsoft will come to their senses and go back to having the conference at facilities that are designed to have the ~5000 attendee crowds...
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