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Build 2016 - a big disappointment

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    The build conference seems to have lost its way, it's a conference for developers which many people have spent a vast amount of money and travelled a long way to attend and it's not right to experiment with a format which was probably one of the main reasons people attend build.


    I understand that the media is here to cover build and Microsoft rightly wants to make announcements about what it intends to do over the next year. But (as I will probably say many times) this is a developer conference, there was hardly anything in the keynotes bar some token demos which really got me enthused. The Xamarin announcement was good but I've already forgotten what was in the first keynote. A few demos and then traipsing out the hololens kit to say that it's now available to developers - great, how do you get one? You can't basically - was a slap in the face. The keynotes seemed like they were a lot of marketing spin aimed at improving Microsoft's image to the media

    No Giveaway:

    At previous builds there has always been a giveaway. To announce that there was no giveaway in a small piece of text as people were frantically trying to reserve their space at the conference was, a best, cheeky. People will say "this is a Dev conference not a freebie event" but they should get off their high horse. As I said people have paid a lot of money to be here, the giveaways were a way of getting developers excited about coding on certain hardware and gave a bit of excitement to the keynotes - which were very flat this year.

    The sessions:

    This is where I feel I've been let down the most. They have gone for a code lab style format but it's not thought through. For example, I spoke to someone yesterday who wasn't able to get into any of the labs he wanted to so just had to wander around the hub for a couple of hours. That's terrible. You've paid money to come to a conference to learn and there's a very good chance that you're not able to attend the talks/labs you want to. At least in previous years, you had talks, you could watch the video in an overflow room. It worked, you got an overview of something you were interested in. I'm not saying that the labs themselves are bad, I managed to get into one and it was well run. What I'm saying is that you shouldn't have to leave a session early to get a ticket for a lab and not get in.


    This was one of the big announcements at build this year but it was nigh on impossible to actually see one, let alone get your hands on one. The sessions sold out within minutes and the people who got tickets had to miss a lot of sessions just for a chance to get a ticket.


    The food this year is also pretty mediocre and some of it was inedible. Having a split venue is also a strange decision combined with the strange ticket system for the labs it means you have to rush everywhere.

    Overall, I feel deflated and let down. So far, some of the talks have been very good but if Microsoft sticks to the same rules and format, I don't think I can justify coming to build next year. How can you say to your company "please pay for me to attend this conference but I might not be able to go to any of the sessions that interest me, so I might not learn anything relevant"?

    This feels like a bit of a rant but for a conference which costs over $2000 I'm wondering where my money has gone. In years before I got decent food, good talks and a nice perk of a giveaway.

    Does anyone feel the same way? I've spoken to a few people here and they have the same feelings.

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    Yep. Wish I had decided devintersection instead. The parties really sucked also and everything so crowded (parties and sessions).

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    I get the fact with no freebies but they could still have handed out a nice package like : Win 10 + VS 2015.

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    Glad to know I am not the only one feel this way. 

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    I felt that way after last year's build.  Tried staying home this year and watching online.  Benefit here is that I have full speed access to the internet, have all the latest stuff already installed and been playing around with Azure Functions all morning. 

    My first build was the one in WA.  Compared to that one, the rest have been less convenient/exciting.  The sessions were in rooms with desks with plugs and you could plug in your laptop.  I think maybe it's the venue.  SF is really not very convenient and is super expensive to stay.  Cost is a big factor especially when you pay for your own ticket and lodging.

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    Right with you.  Must regretfully state that our decision to attend was a mistake.  Unless Microsoft are somehow able to convince us that they understand that they also made a mistake by taking the low road, and will ensure that future conferences will not be as chintzy as this one, never again.  Really.

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    100% agree. This was my third build, and by far the most disappointing. I literally don't think I gained *anything* by being here over having just stayed at home and watched it on channel 9. Was very disappointed.

    The giveaways - that didn't actually bother me. But everything felt like it was just an attempt to cut costs. The announcement on the website said "no hardware giveaways" - so I was assuming we were going to get some sort of software giveaway - or even MS store credit (like 2014, when they gave us XBones and $500 store credit).  But nothing. Oh wait. Sorry, I got about 6 free t-shirts. Whoopdedoo.

    <frowny face> Make sure you let them all know what you think in the post-conference survey. I sure did.

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    I felt the conference this year was awesome!  I am still watching sessions and assimilating the information.  Having a few issues with Zamarin configuration but almost there! 

    (No, I didn't attend in person this year) (6)

    Best MS Conference I ever attended (and I have done quite a few in my time) was in Orlando - the convention centre there is the best I have attended and the general amenities and hotel costs were also good.

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    Attending from home wasn't bad. The main things I miss from not going this year are

    1. Labs - but from the sound of it, I wouldn't have made it into many this year
    2. Conference main give-away - but there wasn't one...
      Has driven me to try new things in the past, regardless of actual value
    3. T-Shirts... actually I'm still giving those away from previous conferences
    4. Networking & talking to MS staff... Miss that.
    5. Dedicated time to learn... Can get distracted by other things 
    6. Standing in long queues...

    mmmmm... I really wanted to go this year, but life got in the way. Going is better than not going, but worth $2000+.. How can I argue it's worth going next year?

  • User profile image

    , ShadowDragon wrote

    Attending from home wasn't bad. The main things I miss from not going this year are

    1. Labs - but from the sound of it, I wouldn't have made it into many this year
    2. Conference main give-away - but there wasn't one...
      Has driven me to try new things in the past, regardless of actual value
    3. T-Shirts... actually I'm still giving those away from previous conferences
    4. Networking & talking to MS staff... Miss that.
    5. Dedicated time to learn... Can get distracted by other things 
    6. Standing in long queues...

    mmmmm... I really wanted to go this year, but life got in the way. Going is better than not going, but worth $2000+.. How can I argue it's worth going next year?

    Good points. There were a lot of really good sessions that weren't recorded. If I'd stayed home, I would have missed a few of these - some of them were the best sessions of the conference.

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    I agree with everything you said and I am waiting for the evaluation to express exactly that.

    Tried to get into the labs - no way and I lined up 1 hour ahead of time.

    The said the sandwich at lunch had ham in it, I am not sure what was in it.

    Wandering the Hub - check!

    I've been doing this a long time and gone to many Microsoft events over the years.  Every year it seems Microsoft is getting more cut-rate each time.  The word that comes to mind is "cheap".  Microsoft used to be the best with all the best food and best giveaways.  Now it is just "cheap".  It is like a restaurant that is right on the edge and decides to raise prices while at the same time cutting portions.  That's the feeling I get about where Microsoft is right now.  I hate to say these things because I have supported Microsoft for a long time but that's how I feel.

    It would be nice to see Microsoft regain the glory it used to have and become the class act it used to be.

    In a nutshell, I will never attend Build again if this is the format going forward.

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    2000$ for tickets and no giveaways.

    I won't attend Build again. NDC australia.

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    Make sure you fill out the post event survey.  it's the only way things will get better.


    total agree with the statements made here.  This was my first time at the build event and in hindsight I think I would have been better off watching the videos.  I just hope they don't screw up Ignite like they did Build otherwise I don't know what I'd do going forward as a customer.


    MS needs to go see what other IT groups can accomplish in their events. RSA, Ciscolive, Oracle are all heavily attended events and seem to go off so much smother then Microsoft.  hope they learn from the experience.....

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    I agree with everything being said here.

    On Wednesday (first day) I spent 40 minutes in line just to learn that only 108 persons go in. I tried to go to another session and, of course, everything was already full. Ended up going to the hub. Next sessions found me in line 1 (one) hour before the session start.

    I spent most of Thursday in lines with at least 40 minutes of waiting for every single lab that I attended. I watch the last 30 minutes of the Keynote on my phone since there was no TV on that hallway.

    I knew there are no giveaways this year but I hoped to get a deeper technical experience as Microsoft claimed. However at 2016 Build I spent more time in lines than in sessions and that summarized the whole mess. I couldn't get in any of the IoT labs sessions and I couldn't try the HoloLens even if I tried several times. There was no breakfast (no bagels, muffins and just coffee and tea) and lunch food was barely eatable.

    Comparing with Build 2015, the hub was nice. Code labs were ok even if I found myself listening to the presenter more than copy-pasting the code that is anyways available for download at any time.

    Microsoft should probably give Scott Hanselman a big bonus. He is awesome at entertaining the disappointed crowds.

    Summarizing, still can't believe what a mess this Build was!

  • User profile image

    Thank you for starting this thread. This was my first Build conference, although in the last couple years I've also attended Ignite, TechEd, and the SharePoint Conference.


    • San Francisco - Loved being in the city with the conference venue within walking distance (unlike Ignite Chicago)
    • Dev keynote on Day #2 was very good. ScottGu and most of the presenters were engaging. Seemed to be less boring marketing videos, although the end of keynote Day #1 with the glasses for the blind with the developer on stage was deeply moving
    • Hanselman never disappoints, although you have to arrive 30 min early to get a good seat
    • Xamarin bundled into Visual Studio. Not a huge surprise, but happy to see this! 
    • Sessions with Anders Hejlsberg,  Mark Russinovich (always one of the best speakers)
    • Medium sized conference (compared to others) which made it easier to get around and not have to stand in huge lines for bathrooms or lunch (remembering the feeding through lines at Ingite or TechEd)?
    • Super nice staff in the purple shirts. Although not always helpful, they were always happy and some of the only people smiling at this conference :)
    • Decent mobile app - easy to check my schedule and find sessions


    • HoloLens Mars Demo - Tried 3 times to get a ticket and no luck. No details about this were announced beforehand and I only learned about it when walking around the vendor floor. Was told that all tickets were gone in 3 min and to come back the next day when the doors opened. I did that (left keynote day #2 45 min early to get there before doors opened), but apparently made a huge mistake in assuming that the "bouncers" would open all 4 doors at once, not just the left-most door. This took everyone by surprise and by the time we got in and run to the back, tickets were gone. I walk back 5 min later and now all doors are open. What a complete joke. Within HoloLens being one the major announcements in the keynote, why not plan to have additional demo units available (even if it's not the Mars experience) or let people book a time in advance? 
    • Labs - Agree with everyone above. Poorly planned and missed out on the ASP.NET labs since I didn't want to wait an hour in line. Why couldn't these have run more frequently? Why no advance note on the ticket situation? I ended up getting into the Xamarin lab which was not that great - presenter wasted 20 min on slides instead of letting everyone get hands on and then the lab environment didn't work as expected
    • Food was horrible - they ran out of ham sandwiches by 12 PM on the first day (even though lunch was supposed to go until 1?). Awful food the second day. Went across the street to Oasis grill for a real lunch. Shameful especially compared to other Microsoft conferences. Next time I will order a custom or halal meal to get some decent food
    • No breakfast. Mid-afternoon snacks were decent and actually somewhat healthy (fruit)
    • Closing party - long lines everywhere! I waited 20 min to get 2 tacos at the Mexican restaurant and almost an hour to get into the Indian restaurant 
    • I registered on the first day (before the keynote began) and the only t-shirt sizes available were XL - 3XL. Not a huge deal since I'll probably use it as a cleaning rag, but why not ask attendees this information up front so that you can ensure more accurate sizing and availability


    Overall, not impressed and won't be back next year. Definitely not worth $2,000 + expenses for 2.5 days. No idea why this conference sold out in a minute. Probably too much hype from previous years with the hardware giveaways. 

    I'll be sure and submit some of this feedback in the formal evaluation too.


  • User profile image

    Well, the feedback from you all was interesting. I attended from home because we are a non-profit and I don't like spending our money unless I have to.  I missed day one due to project conflicts. But I really enjoyed the last 2 days. I found it very inspirational and educational.  The quality of the streaming video was excellent the entire time. Not one glitch in all the sessions I watched.  I will almost certainly watch it from home next time. It's very convenient.

    Regarding the labs and over-committed events, I genuinely sympathize. I've experienced that at conferences. maybe they should either expand staff, limit attendance further, or take online reservations to registered attendees. Then you would know what you were getting into.  In contrast to what y'all are saying, I attended an ALM Summit/Forum several years ago, and the hands-on attention from highly skilled Microsoft personnel was amazing. So that is a great conference, if the ALM space is your thing.

    My suggestion for this conference is to expand the excellent recorded and streamed sessions and make it possible for even more people to attend remotely, expanding the remote experience.


  • User profile image

    This year is the most disappoint Build conference I ever attended since I going to the MS development conferences (PDC + Build).  Not attendees party and no giveaway - no Windows Phone or MS Band 2 nor a MS Store or Azure credit....  Meals at the conference are not good.  The ticketing system to get into sessions not working well.  I could just stay home and watch online to be honest...  If thing is not improving next year, I am seriously consider skipping next year.

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    Completely agree, I was very disappointed by this year's //build, frankly if next year is the same I would not ask my company to pay for me to attend, it was simply not worth the cash.

    The thing that got me the most worked up about this was how cheap the conference felt, the "Theaters" located in The Hub were the most telling. Some of the most interesting talks were held down in this "Theater" which was incredibly undersized and very loud due to being located in The Hub.

    The Coding Challenges were also a joke, not nearly enough machines for developers, making it impossible to try your hand at it.

    After making a huge announcement of porting BASH to Windows I made it a point to attend the first talk on this new system down in The Hub.

    Much to my dismay instead of being able to talk to the project lead, he instead was giving a Channel9 Interview in which online non-build-paying-participants were able to interact directly with him. While those of us who had paid to attend the conference were left with the "opportunity" to sit and watch as a Microsoft representative fumbled around with his laptop to try show the Channel9 presentation taking place right out side (the Wifi Network also was poor and he messed with it for 5 minutes before I gave up and left to try and attend another more useful presentation).

    What was the point of that? A slap in the face to the developers that had made the effort and convinced their companies to pony up the cash? Just so we don't get the opportunity to be the first to talk with the product manager behind this huge announcement? To not be able to interact with their developers? To allow those that had been following online and didn't pay the entrance fee to get their questions answered first? Where was this PM after the show, sure wasn't in the Presenters area (which was poorly marked).

    Also absolutely no representatives from the SQL Team down in The Hub to talk about their Linux announcement? No classes on that? What a joke.

    Microsoft/Eventcore should be ashamed at the quality of conference they put out this year; we're a small company, but every year we put on a Users Group Conference that by far and away is MUCH better than what was presented this year at //build and we don't have anywhere near the resources at our disposal nor do we charge anywhere near the ticket price.

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