So this is my third Tech Ed (2012 in Orlando, 2013 in New Orleans, and 2014).
Pros: There really was something for everyone and unlike previous years every session didn't try to slam cloud down your throat. I also really appreciated the sessions given by vendors or that had vendor content in them, or other third parties. The technical content, availability of slides, and post-tech ed downloads remain amazing. Speakers were great, just as always top notch. Labs ran good and were well staffed, appreciated that.
Cons: Honestly, most cons related to sessions have to do with folks asking questions and refusing to use microphones. I had coworkers who previously attended MMS complain about the lack of general lack of On-Prem sessions.
Pros: Small, meant that it was really easy to go from one end to another, or to skip out on a class to go to another. Also, finding things was really easy. Compared to New Orleans which was SO massive it became a journey just to make it to certain things, this was definitely a nice plus. Buses ran great as always. Food was OK (better than Orlando, worse than New Orleans)
Cons: Small meant huge traffic jams getting up to the sessions as for inexplicable reasons the doors were locked to the actual stairs and there were only a handful of escalators. Bathrooms, as always, were a problem to find and get in & out of quickly. Also while the convention staff were pleasant enough there was a HUGE disparity between the Hilton staff/food & the convention center staff/food.
Pros: Before Keynote entertainment (flashdrive?) was pretty darn cool.
Cons: Tiny venue. Content was awful. I care a little bit about the cloud but my employer doesn't care about the cloud, the one thing I might have cared about regarding cloud - NSA snooping - wasn't addressed at all and I apparently got teleported back in time to the 2011 apple Siri demo. Not a single product announcement or "bonus" announcement for TechEd attendees. Nothing at all about On Prem technology which is what the vast majority of Tech ED attendees were there to learn about.
Closing Party: C
Pros: Hey its a baseball stadium with free food and some fun activities. The last band was pretty cool too.
Cons: My gold standard for closing parties is Orlando. Universal park, decked out in TechED gear, just an amazingly fun night and SO MUCH to do. This.... packed into a baseball stadium, vendors ran out of everything almost immediately, very little to do, not many places to sit. Just.. meh. I mean you could hardly even tell it was a tech ed thing.
Pros: It wasn't anchorage Alaska in January? In all seriousness, people were nice so thank you Houston!
Cons: Everything closed downtown early, 1 hour plus to go anywhere, everything shut down on Sunday, I saw two different occasions of police officers screaming at tech ed attendees for no real reason (one dared to stray outside the crosswalk lines!) traffic was catastrophically bad. Taxi Drivers made it their policy to attempt to rip you off, just blah.
Tech Expo: B
Pros: Better than NO, and more centrally laid out made it easier to get to in between sessions. Solution experts and vendor folks were good though, found quite a bit to bring back, made a number of contacts with both MS folks & other vendors.
Cons: MS area was laid out by buzzwords apparently.
I might be going to Build next year instead of TechEd 2015. I feel as though Microsoft is confused as to what TechED is supposed to be and the event is reflecting it.
Much Nicer content catalog this year, thanks!
Lack of Tech Ed 2015 announcement puzzling.
Good job with charging stations throughout the conference center this year. about always packed, but still you could find them if needed.
WiFi wasn't awful so thanks!
No Surface Pro discount, no Technet subscription (not that it exists)... nothing at all as a bonus for TechED attendees was really, really, really, really disappointing.