Location/Venue: Personally being from Texas I did not like the location being Houston. I didn't think it offered enough for people after the sessions for the day. With most of the attendees being bused around it made it extremely hard or costly to get back into downtown to enjoy the location.
The conference building itself I felt was a great setup. I like the multiple levels keeping things organized. I did however encounter quite a few sessions I wanted to attend being full. I would of liked to see larger accommodations for the sessions that were popular.
Food: The food was probably about the worst I have experienced at a conference of this size. I think they did a great job on serving everyone in the lines and such. However I thought the mid day meals were not a great choice. I would of rather had some MRE's for lunch. It also seemed like no matter what table I sat at the coffee was either cold or empty.
Keynote: The keynote was a total waste of everyone's time I felt. I was really hoping for something great but instead we were showcased on Excel?! Really if your at TechEd your wanting to be blown away not bored to death. I think the speakers were good and the content was okay however it was not keynote worthy. I personally would of liked to see things like the Surface 3, Windows Phone, and so forth whats up coming. Although Windows phone and Azure were touched on I just think they went to deep and lost a ton of people's interest. I believe it should of been a very broad topic everyone could relate to instead of having it broken out by end users and developers. You basically were done talking to half the people at one time or another.
Expo: The expo to me was a typical expo. I personally would like to see the whole "scan" thing go away. Its like if you want to enter into a raffle or just get a free pen you have to get 3 weeks of junk mail and sales calls. The large part of attendees don't have the say nor power to invest in products they are there learning skills. I also agree that all the "must be present to win" raffles are lame. No one should have to miss sessions to make the expo worth while. If that was the case all raffles should be draw after sessions are completed for the day or during lunch to give everyone a fair shot. However the expo is not the purpose of TechEd as much as the sessions.
Transportation: I would of liked to have closer hotels but I am sure that is my cheap company's fault. With what we did have I think the buses were great. I never had to wait for a bus except for it to go. There was always a bus waiting on us it seemed like.
I will say that it would of been nice to have the transportation available every night for those who wanted to participate in the vendor outings or downtown dinning and such. It was not cost efficient for a cab every night, nor the hotel meal.
Closing Party: This was a good idea however poorly played out. WAY too crowded, food was out fast on a lot of the main items, and the lines were ridiculous for any of the events. I did like the DJ that was there but think he deserved a little better setup. What was with the Lady Gaga casino theme? That was totally weird. The casino had no instructions as how to get money and so forth. I think across the board signage\information could of been better. For example all of the exits were saying the buses were leaving at like 10 but they were not really leaving until 12. For Microsoft I would of expected a better planned and executed venue.
Sessions: I thought some of the sessions were informative and great. However one thing I didn't really like is that some of the new stuff such as SharePoint 2013 was all about cloud based and so forth. Nothing really touched on hosted solutions. I know where it is all going but not everyone is there or going to go there. Again I believe popular sessions could of had larger rooms to accommodate more people instead of just saying full. I did miss out on one session i really wanted to attend due to the previous one going over and then the session being full.
Takeaway: At the time I was pretty disappointed Microsoft didn't do anything for the attendees as far as hardware, software, or devices. At MSBuild this year they gave everyone an Xbox. Last year at TechEd was the Surface fire sale and some got Lifetime MSDN accounts. For me to spend my money on the venue and to walk away with no coupon I was pretty disappointed. Not to mention to come home and that Monday Surface 3 is released. Really?! C'Mon Man!!!
I also find it very enticing to have the latest technology in my hand to be able to go back to the hotel or in between sessions to apply newly learned techniques and so forth. I know I can get a trial on the software but I would of thought we would have at least received something more to entice attendees to go out, play with the technology, and to help in the buying in of what Microsoft was selling.
Overall: I would say probably one of the worst TechEd's ever. I won't say I will never go back but someone else will have to be paying for it. I will focus my efforts more on Build instead since year after year the seem to produce at that event.