well I do not know about prices but I do feel that Microsoft in the last few years has become less fun to deal with, I recall around 2000 to 2005  when I liked going to Microsoft developer events.

in the last 2 years I have not even given them a thought as the few they have done were to far away and to expensive.   they used to have local events that had no cost other than time taken off work and going to them.  at the local events I had time to talk to MS staff and get good info and make connections. they stopped doing that and the local guy who used to do them now works for a different company.