The Microsoft week ahead: What's on for TechEd 2011?

This week I'll be in Atlanta with thousands of IT professionals and developers for Microsoft's TechEd 2011 conference. Here are a few of the things I'll be watching for (and doing) while in town.
Written by Mary Jo Foley, Senior Contributing Editor

This week I'll be in Atlanta with thousands of IT professionals and developers for Microsoft's TechEd 2011 conference. Here are a few of the things I'll be watching for (and doing) while in town:

* What's a Microsoft trade show without a Kinect demo? It sounds like there may be one this week of the Kinect sensor controlling Visual Studio 2010.

* Seems to me that TechEd might be a good venue for Microsoft to unveil the final version of Visual Studio LightSwitch, as well. LightSwitch, codenamed “KittyHawk,” is a rapid-application-development (RAD) tool targeted at fledgling coders interested in building business applications. Microsoft released the first public beta of LightSwitch in August 2010, and the second beta in March 2011.

* Perhaps there will be some other Visual Studio-inspired announcements on tap, given that Jason Zander, the Corporate Vice President of Visual Studio, is one of the lead-off keynoters on Monday morning. Maybe we'll hear more on the tech previews of the new Visual Studio-based designer experience for the AppFabric Composition Model and the accompanying AppFabric Composite App Service CTP that the Softies mentioned at the Professional Developers Conference in fall 2010? I'm thinking it might still be too early for hhints about the next Visual Studio, which may or may not be named Visual Studio 2012... But you never know.

* The other lead keynoter on Monday May 16 is Robert Wahbe, Corporate Vice President of Server and Tools Marketing, which handles marketing for Windows Server, SQL Server, Visual Studio, System Center, and Forefront security and identity products. Does that mean there will be a SQL Server "Denali" update on tap for next week? I have noticed more than a few TechEd sessions around the "Crescent" PowerPivot successor are on tap... and has been a while since that first Denali test build went out in November 2010...

* Microsoft execs told me earlier this year that we'd be getting an update on the Windows Azure Appliances -- those "private cloud in a box" systems that Microsoft announced a year ago (and so far, seem to be largely missing in action).

* I'm thinking TechEd also might be a good place for Microsoft to provide updates on some other Azure building blocks that company officials said last fall would be available in the "first half" of 2011. Seems like this might be a good place to take the wraps off SQL Azure Reporting, SQL Azure Data Sync, some of those promised Azure AppFabric Service Bus improvements, Windows Azure Connect (Project Sydney, a k a, technology for securely connecting cloud and on-premises servers), and maybe even that promised technology preview for Team Foundation Services on Windows Azure.

*As Windows SuperSite blogger Paul Thurrott noted earlier this week, there are quite a few Windows Phone sessions on the TechEd agenda, including one highlighting enterprise features of Windows Phone 7. But I'm thinking the Redmondians will save their "Mango" thunder for the following week at the Windows Phone VIP preview on May 24. There are a number of freely downloadable Microsoft TechEd apps for Windows Phone 7, Android and iOS phones/devices available.

* There's a Women in Technology lunch panel on Tuesday, May 17 where several female Softies (plus me, representing the non-Computer-Science female geek contingent) will talk up networking tips and tricks. Women and men are both invited. So if you're free, join us.

* And throughout TechEd, there will be signings of the ".Net Gurus Can Cook" cookbook from GrapeCity. (Even though I'm not a programmer -- and nowhere near a ".Net Guru," I was allowed to sneak a recipe in, for my soon-to-be-infamous vegetarian chicken soup.) I've seen the proofs and there are lots of fun recipes in there from Softies and non-Softies alike. The book will be for sale in the TechEd bookstore this week, and a number of us "chefs" will be on hand to sign your copies.

Microsoft is trying to get folks tweeting about and from TechEd to use the #msteched hash tag, so watch for updates and announcements throughout the week there... as well as right here on my blog, starting Monday May 16.

Meanwhile, anyone know of any other likely announcements, meet-ups, panels, etc., happening this week at TechEd?

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