It’s hard to believe another year has passed, and we’re about to kickoff Microsoft Ignite 2018. I normally like to ease into the week and keep my Sunday schedule light. The pre-day sessions that are offered are always compelling with their all-day focus on a topic, and this year’s Diversity and Tech pre-day sounds like it was a huge hit, but I’m not ready to hit the round running just yet. Maybe next year.
Instead I slept until about 7 AM, hit snooze a few times until around 7:45 AM, and finally got up and made myself presentable (in a Green Bay Packers gold t-shirt of course – Go Pack Go!). I made my way to the convention center via the skybridge from my hotel, the Rosen Plaza. When I originally booked this hotel, the skybridge was a huge selling point since I hate relying on the buses, and it’s simply too hot and humid in Orlando to walk very far outside. My hotel choice proved to be even better when Microsoft announced that everything (save for the keynote) would be all located in the West Building. Jackpot! Anybody who booked the Hilton thinking their connection to the North/South building probably thought otherwise. (Sorry @BuckeyeGuyFlo!)
I picked up my bag, water bottle, t-shirt, and earbuds, then made a beeline for the 10Am Ignite 101 session with Rick Claus and Joey Snow. I’ve been going to TechEd and Ignite every year (save one) since 2003, so I’m an experienced attendee, but the 101 session is still a good one to attend because there are new things every single year. Plus Rick Claus and Joey Snow (aka @PatchAndSwitch) are entertaining as heck.
The big takeaways this year was that Microsoft takes feedback to heart and makes changes as a result. Last year the amount of walking between the three buildings was overwhelming. This year, everything save the keynotes are in West and the Hyatt Regency. People missed having a hot option at lunch. This year, there will be a hot option every day. People wanted deeper content and less marketing fluff. This year 60% of the sessions are 300-400 level. (I think I’m remembering that percentage correctly). And for a better summary of the session, check out this amazing sketchnote by Luise Freese. It’s so cool!
Afterwards I went on a special tour of the Expo Hall (which is much more than just the Expo this year) with a bunch of us from the Krewe. The place was a beehive of activity with workers working incredibly hard to get everything ready to open tomorrow. And let me tell you, Microsoft knocked it out of the park with their design this year. It’s all there. The Microsoft Showcase where you can connect directly with the experts from Microsoft to get answers to all of your product questions and more. The Expo where you can talk to partners that build upon the solutions from Microsoft and explore that ecosystem. Three huge dining halls. Meetup spaces. An actual park! With real trees! A Microsoft Store and the Conference Store! (5% discount on Surface Go!) And the Hangout, where you can watch sessions of your choice from some incredibly comfy chairs.
I’m really excited to see it finished and in full operation starting tomorrow. I expect there will be some glitches here and there and things that need tweaking, but what you will see is the product of a lot of work by a great team from Microsoft. As you work your way through the week, don’t hesitate to give feedback to the team during the event and afterwards via the event survey, just be sure to keep it constructive.
After the tour it was time for a quick bag drop, then off to Miller’s Ale House to get some grub and watch the Packers. I had to have my traditional serving of smoked fish dip, and as fish dips go, Miller’s is not as good as some, but it’s way better than what we get back in St. Louis which is nothing. Unfortunately the Packers game was dreadful. 1-1-1 is not the record I expected to see leaving week three.
Back to the hotel for a bit of a rest, and then I was off to Tin Roof for the annual Krewe Meet and Greet. As always it was great to see everyone again along with a number of new faces. Some drinks, some food, some trading of stickers, and a lot of catching up. I can’t think of a better way to start of the week. It was just what I needed after the roller coaster ride that was Saturday. I won’t get into I there, but if you follow me on Twitter, you’ll know what I’m talking about.
And that was day 0 of Ignite for me. I’ll be up early tomorrow to get myself situated for breakfast and the Vision keynote with Satya. Don’t forget that you can watch the keynote live tomorrow at 9 AM EDT. Join the livestream at the Microsoft Ignite site.