The best part of Microsoft Ignite? How about 10 best parts.

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What an incredible five days. From the keynotes, labs, and breakouts, to meet-ups, demos, and celebrations, the days were packed from start to finish. There was a lot to keep up with, so here's a quick review of the highlights...

 

  1. The Keynotes – Innovation, demos, and AI

On the first morning, Scott kicked off a discussion of how IT can lead the "digital transformation" using the power of cloud and mobile technology. Then in the afternoon, Satya sparked a lively conversation about innovation and the Microsoft goal of democratizing AI. As he put it, "We're not pursuing AI to beat humans at games." Rather, we want to solve today's economic and social challenges. Both keynotes set the tone for sessions throughout the week about what's possible now, and going forward.

  1. The 8 General Sessions – Focused presentations from top tech leaders

In addition to the keynotes, the first day featured the eight General Sessions: Microsoft leaders offering deeper looks at innovation in their particular areas. Brad Anderson spoke on security. Scott Hanselman on the Microsoft application platform for developers. Jason Zander, John Meza, and Ben Golub on IT infrastructure. Rob Lefferts on Windows 10, Joseph Sirosh on Algorithm, Cloud, IoT, and Data (A.C.I.D.), Gurdeep Pall on Skype for Business and Project Rigel, Mike Ehrenberg on cloud-first business applications, and Kirk Koenigsbauer on Office 365. I heard great feedback on every single one. The only complaint? It was hard to choose which to attend. To which I say: don't worry! They're available on demand.

  1. The Expo – Customer Showcase, Beam bots, and a whole lot more

The Expo was full of experts, incredible partner technologies, new tech from Microsoft, and enough swag to fill an extra suitcase (or two). Shout-outs to the Beam Robots, Spark 360 portraits, Microsoft Ignite Studios presentations, and every single "Ah-ha!" moment inspired by conversations at the booths.

  1. Hang Out and kicking back

Brand new this year, the Hang Out was a very popular spot for sitting, chatting, and watching multiple live session broadcasts on the 3,500-square-foot video wall. I know I logged some good hours there!

  1. Networking everywhere

Smart people talking tech. That was the scene everywhere, with people connecting in the Hang Out, at the Expo, in the hallways, playing chess outdoors, and grabbing lunch together on the lawn. There were great spaces all over for meeting up, hanging out, asking questions, and shaping the future of IT.

  1. Women in Technology – Representing in Atlanta

The dynamic Women in Tech events brought together influential women who are making a difference in the tech world. Panelists, speakers, and attendees alike talked about challenging issues, effective strategies, and some eye-opening statistics, including: Diverse teams are shown to perform 45 percent better. And, of 1.4 million jobs available in tech today, only 3 percent will be filled by women.

  1. The Celebration! – Camping and glamping under the stars

Non-stop music. Summer games. Abundant cookouts and local brews. Whether you opted for the rock wall, mini golf, billiards, Jenga, karaoke, or a little bit of it all, Thursday night's celebration was one for the books. Thanks Atlanta!

  1. The Labs – Getting interactive and hands-on

The labs are always a popular way to sharpen skills and explore new technologies, and this year, with the addition of the interactive digital labs (IDLs), they got even more shout-outs than usual. It's not too late to check them out: The labs will stay available online for 6 months after Microsoft Ignite is over.

  1. Microsoft Tech Community – Getting connected

During Microsoft Ignite, attendees used the Microsoft Tech Community to go deeper into session content, plan meet-ups, and share experiences. These expert conversations continue throughout the year—so if you haven't yet joined, sign up now to stay connected with your Microsoft Ignite community.

  1. Podcast Center – Broadcasting from Atlanta

We had 20 podcasts and 28 podcasters over the course of the week, including gurus like Richard Campbell from RunAs Radio, and Joey Snow and Rick Claus from Patch and Switch. The highlight was Windows Weekly Live with Mary Jo Foley and Paul Thurrott, streaming live and drawing over 100 people to the Podcast Center.

 

And that's the Top 10!

Thank you to everyone who attended Microsoft Ignite this year. I look forward to seeing you again next year in Orlando, Fla., Sep. 25–29!

Pre-register now for Microsoft Ignite 2017.

And don't forget: you can watch the sessions and keynotes on demand.

 

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Ignite

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