October 24, 2009

Reflecting on our Windows 7 birthday party

So this week my buddy Charlie and I threw a Windows 7 party for the IT pro community in Vancouver, BC at the Microsoft office.

The office could only handle 80 people, and we simply had to turn people away. Sorry to those who weren't allowed to come. Many people came early, and hung out in the hallway even before they were allowed in.

With almost a 100 people in that hallway just out of the elevator, that hall was WARM. I felt bad for some of the people as you could tell they were overheating. But we weren't ready to let them in as we set up the rooms with different Windows 7 systems.

When we did open the doors it was a mad rush for everyone to get in where it was cooler and they could grab a cold one and cool down. Thankfully everyone was patient and polite. Thanks to everyone for that!

Once they got in, there were several different rooms that they could go hang out in. In one room, Charlie had brought a HP Media Touchsmart so people could experience the new multi touch functionality of Windows 7. Kerry Brown, a fellow MVP with experience in Windows shell, stayed in the room teaching people all the new shell features like Libraries, Jump Lists etc, and I am told schooled some admins on the nitty gritty of Power Shell. Good job Kerry! Thanks for helping out!!!

It was interesting as everytime I looked in that room, people were surrounded around the device playing with the TouchPack games and with Virtual Earth. It was interesting to hear my buddy Alan comment that his experience on his iPhone with multitouch, especially with Google Earth, was far superior to what he was seeing there. Maybe that is something Microsoft can take away from that. Of course, big difference on a 24 inch monitor and a small iPhone screen. But the point is well taken.

We had the biggest crowds when we did demos in the main presentation room. When I was presenting on DirectAccess security I had my good friend Roger Benes (a Microsoft FTE) demonstrate how Microsoft used DirectAccess themselves. Using the Microsoft guest wireless he connected seamlessly to Microsoft's corpnet, which allowed us to demonstrate the policy control and easy of use of the technology. I am told a lot of people enjoyed that session, with several taking that experience back to their own office to discuss deployment. Thats always good to hear.

Charlie impressed the crowd showing how to migrate from Windows XP and Vista to Windows 7. He demonstrated Windows Easy Transfer and Anytime Upgrades and took the time to explain the gotchas in the experience. He even had me demonstrate XP mode on my laptop so people could see how they could maintain application compatibility with a legacy Windows XP virtualized on Windows 7.

Of course, I had a lot of fun hanging out in the far back room. I got to demonstrate some of the security stuff built into Windows 7 like BitLocker, AppLocker and BitLocker to Go. I was even asked about Parental Controls which I couldn't show on my laptop since its domain joined, but was able to show on a demo box Roger had brought for people to play with.

Some of the more interesting things I helped facilitate was asking my buddy Alan to bring his Macbook in. He is a great photographer who works with Linux and OSX a fair bit, on top of using Windows. Actually, all the photos you see in this post were taken by him. Thanks for sharing them Alan!

Anyways, I convinced him to let us use his Macbook to install Windows 7. He reluctantly agreed, as you can see from the picture below when he was looking at the Snow Leopard and Windows 7 media together. :-)

We had a fair number of people crowd around his Macbook as he went through the process of installing Bootcamp and deploying Windows 7. Interestingly enough, it flawlessly converted that Apple hardware into a powerful Windows 7 system in about 20 minutes.

Charlie and I were REALLY busy. We had presented on different sessions in different rooms throughout the night. Actually, I very rarely even saw him except for a few times when he called me in to help out with a demo. Sorry we couldn't party more together Charlie. And my apologies to those that were looking forward to our traditional "Frick and Frack" show where we banter back and forth.

Many of you may not know that outside of computers, I am an avid indie filmmaker. Actually, that is giving me too much credit. I am an amateur cinematographer at best, who had high hopes that I would get a chance to film everyone's impressions throughout the party. Unfortunately, I was so busy presenting, I had almost NO TIME to get any film recorded. *sigh* Alan did get a snap of a rare moment when I actually caught someone on film.

Of course I can't complain too much. I had a great time getting to show all the neat features in Windows 7, and answering the tonnes of questions that people had.

Of course, when the night finally wound down, it was nice to close out the party and watch the Vancouver skyline change. When we were done, we had the opportunity to hang with our IT friends in Vancouver and bring in the birth of Windows 7.

I have several people I would like to thank for making the evening possible. Charlie and I couldn't have done it without the support of people like Graham from VanTUG, Jas from VanSBS and Roger from Microsoft. Speaking of Microsoft, I have to give a shout out to Sim, Sasha and Ljupco in the MVP team who helped us get through all the red tape to throw the party at Microsoft's office. And many thanks to Brent, Alan and Kerry for helping us out throughout the event. My thanks to all of you.

I hope everyone had a good time. And if anything, Charlie and I hope you learned something that will help you deploy and use Windows 7 in your organizations. Happy birthday Windows 7. Welcome to a new world without walls!

P.S. All the pictures you see here were taken by Alan and used with his permission. You can check out some of his other amazing work at bailwardphotography.com.

Posted by SilverStr at October 24, 2009 09:17 PM | TrackBack

That was a great night.
See you at the Vancouver Techfest

Posted by: David Nudelman at November 12, 2009 04:29 PM