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I've spoken at TechEds in the US and Europe, and been in the top 10 for attendee feedback twice.

I'd never speak at TechEd again, and I told Microsoft the same thing, same reasons. The event staff is overly demanding and inconsiderate of speaker time. They repeatedly dragged me into mandatory virtual and in-person meetings to cover inane details that should have been covered via email. They mandated the color of pants speakers wore. Just ridiculously micromanaged.




They mandated the color of pants speakers wore.

Am I really reading this? Wow.


Khakis, with brown shoes. Not tennis shoes, although trendy sneakers (but not athletic shoes) would be considered.

The most insulting part: the Microsoft keynote speakers - MS employees - were in jeans and track suits. They were trying to look approachable. Hilarious because you couldn't approach them and ask a question during keynotes.


I'm a Microsoft employee who has spoken at one TechEd and staffed a booth at another. Rest assured, the style cops were all over us to conform to the dress code. I can believe that there's a different standard for keynote speakers, who are usually notable or "important" in some way.


The colour was fine for an emperor. We know who wears the real pants in this "relationship".


Apparently you were really reading that. I don't think dress code is out of the question though. Thong swimsuits would be a horrible thing to speak in.


Nop. Have you seen the talk on SOAP fro Don Box (another Microsoft employee): http://blog.mattmags.com/2011/05/19/don-box-the-bathtub-lect... ? If above dress code thing is true then Microsoft has came long way...


I'm guessing that was a typo, but NOP as an instruction is kind of fitting in this situation, too.


Realistically, what would they do if you showed up in jeans? "Sorry folks, the talk is cancelled. Your speaker decided to wear jeans today."?

That is the sort of bullshit that I always call bluffs on. Worse case scenario you get someone all huffy and upset that their rule has been ignored (making them feel unimportant, as they should), and you give them a "whoops, too bad."


> Realistically, what would they do if you showed up in jeans?

Nothing at that talk, but you may not be on the invite list for next time. Microsoft's invite list for TechEd is notoriously political. The leader for each track (an MS employee) picks the session list.

To give an extreme example, one of my submissions was called something like "Fixing Slow SQL Servers." I was told, "At TechEd, there are no slow SQL Servers." It was changed to Building the Fastest SQL Servers. (sigh)


Well, if you are planning on not giving further anyway talks because of how you are being treated, then there is probably very little harm in not being invited in the future.

IMHO, life is too short to donate time to people who are going to treat you like a child.


Agreed, and as I mentioned in the first comment, that's why I quit presenting. There's enough places to volunteer my time already - no need to do it there.


Check

I just created a list of conferences to never attend too.

I live in the real world.


I agree in spirit, but not details. The dress code is what's unimportant, not the person trying to manage the speakers.


The way I look at it is that anyone who gets upset over trivial details like that is almost certainly unimportant. If they were important, then calling their bluff on something so minor wouldn't be taken as an attack on their usefulness. Minor things only become major things if the person demanding them has nothing better to do.

99.9% of the time when you call peoples' bluff on stupid shit like pant color at a talk, nobody cares. Most people who demand that sort of thing have better things to be worrying about.


I wonder if blog posts like this will cause some kind of reform. I was under the impression that Microsoft was aware of how important keeping 3rd-party developers happy is toward the long-term success of any OS or platform they publish.


> I was under the impression that Microsoft was aware of how important keeping 3rd-party developers happy

If Microsoft started alienating the very high number of Windows (desktop) developers (which is going to be higher than the OS X community for a foreseeable future), do you think they'd just abandon the platform?


In terms of Windows, developers are already entrenched in the system either through lock-in or business decisions imposing Windows on them. Those types of developers are unlikely to abandon the platform no matter how much Microsoft treats them like cattle.

On the other hand, I'd say alienating the developer community would prevent hackers from making things for new(er) Microsoft platforms like Windows Phone or Azure. Things that might have been the killer app for that platform.


developers are already entrenched in the system ... Those types of developers are unlikely to abandon the platform no matter how much Microsoft treats them like cattle.

The benefit to Microsoft of having developers on-side is that those developers write applications that make Microsoft's platforms valuable to their customers.

No developer capable of writing platform-defining applications is ever tied more than casually to a specific platform.

If Microsoft alienates the developer community, Windows is dead. Whether its successor would be OS X or Linux or iOS or Android or something else entirely is hard to predict, but that is irrelevant to Microsoft's fate.


The benefit to Microsoft of having developers on-side is that those developers write applications that make Microsoft's platforms valuable to their customers.

What, Office? No. Microsoft actually writes the core software that makes their platform valuable. There are developers that provide additional value, and that's very important, but I don't think it's easy for developers to force Microsofts hand in that.

Edit: in fact, the power gradient goes the other way: as a developer of an end-user application for a PC, you still have to very strongly consider writing for Windows whether you like it or not, because of the software written by Microsoft providing the core value for customers.


> What, Office? No. Microsoft actually writes the core software that makes their platform valuable.

What about the thousands of games, utilities, applications that make Windows so though to eradicate from the average business? Windows RT offers little more than that core value and the market shows clearly it's a failure.


The games and utilities are there because of Office, not the other way around, and both were made in huge amounts for other systems, then retreated, and are getting ported back to e.g. macs only now (think Autodesk stuff), and this is more due to Office becoming less relevant than anything else.


No so sure I buy that.... for one thing most components of the Office suite were available (Yes, from Microsoft!) on the Mac years before they shipped for Windows.


Like you say, "thousands of games, utilities, apps".

Even if half of their 3rd party developers left they would still have thousands of apps.


What, Office?

There's a lot more than just Office.

I'm writing this on a Windows PC with several heavyweight software packages and plenty more lightweight tools installed, all commercial and legally purchased, that are not available on my obvious alternative platform (Linux).

However, I have little use for a heavyweight office suite. For example, most of the text-based documents I create are either plain text files or "serious" work created with more powerful tools than Word.

as a developer of an end-user application for a PC, you still have to very strongly consider writing for Windows whether you like it or not

You're begging the question. The point is that you can develop end-user applications on many other viable platforms today. Some of them, such as web apps, are also accessible from PCs. Others require different devices, but if my expected customer base already has those devices or would be willing to acquire them to use my software, that's not a problem for me.

There are obviously some advantages to writing a native application over, for example, trying to do everything in a web app. However, writing and maintaining native Windows applications is now so unpleasant compared to numerous other options -- almost entirely as a result of Microsoft's choices regarding APIs, installation/update mechanisms, and other system-level functionality -- that the path of least resistance is to use other platforms when you can and write natively for Windows only when you must. That's very bad news for Microsoft.


"However, I have little use for a heavyweight office suite. For example, most of the text-based documents I create are either plain text files or "serious" work created with more powerful tools than Word."

What field are you in, if you don't mind my asking? I really can't figure out based on this statement whether or not you're in MS' target demographic.


What field are you in, if you don't mind my asking?

I work with multiple small businesses, one of which is a vehicle for consultancy/freelance work, so we have some diversity. Everything we do is using creative technologies, whether it's software development, web sites, etc.

That means we deal with a lot of technical files (but things like source code or HTML/CSS are all plain text) and a lot of client-facing documentation (but that would typically be done with software like TeX or Creative Suite and probably supplied as a PDF). That doesn't leave a lot for the middle ground where tools like Word are useful, so while we do keep LibreOffice around, it's mostly so we can read word processor documents sent to us and create the occasional simple spreadsheet, not for any of our serious creative work.


On the other hand, I'd say alienating the developer community would prevent hackers from making things for new(er) Microsoft platforms like Windows Phone or Azure. Things that might have been the killer app for that platform.

Hasn't that already happened though? This is Microsoft with 20 years of bad press in hacker-circles we're talking about!


No, 20 years of froth-spitting, slathering linux crazies not understanding why reasonable people and developers choose the incredibly easy to use Windows over the ever shifting quick sand of linux.

That's obviously a bit of a joke but it is in fact all a matter of perspective. Most people think the world is populated with clones of them and their friends/colleagues.

It's not.

Until 5 years ago Macs and Linux weren't even a vaguely viable option for selling software.


5 years ago the web was a viable option. (Just look at Google & Facebook)

pg's "Microsoft is dead": http://www.paulgraham.com/microsoft.html


Most already have. Looking backward, the primary competition has been web, not OS X. Looking forward, the ascent of mobile is only making it easier to deprioritise Windows.


Color of pants, really? Just wow.


Is a dress-code for presenters really that insane in an age of such care and attention to branding?

I frequently visit pubs that tell me what shoes I'm allowed to wear! Sounds like micromanaging, but it's really just a "No singlets, no thongs [flip-flops], no visible tattoos, no sneakers, etc."


You go to a pub where you are forbidden from having a visible tattoo?

I have no tattoos, and I'm shocked (a) at the existence of such a place in 2013 and (b) that anyone with a tattoo would put up with it.


Did you agree to such micromanagement in your contract?


> Did you agree to such micromanagement in your contract?

No, funny thing with TechEd - there's a million different people involved in running it, none of whom appear to know anything about the others. So you sign the contract, which is fairly innocuous, and then the crazy emails start trickling in, one at a time.

When I talked to my MS track leader about it, even he didn't know about all these meetings and the departments that we're requiring them.

At one TechEd, just after the Surfaces had been released but no technical details were out yet, I found myself in yet another mandatory speaker meeting. We were told that we weren't allowed to answer any questions about the Surface, and that instead we were to just say, "I'm very excited about what's coming."

I'm a SQL Server community guy, not an MS employee, not a Surface advocate, but that meeting was mandatory. That was the last straw.


Sounds like a fun event. Thanks for sharing.


Plus the folks at PASS and local chapters aren't usually anal drones from Redmond.




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