My experience @ Experiences’17

It has been a long two-days event for Microsoft France.
I wanted to summarize this event and what happened during those two days.
I will not be extensive about all the announcements and sessions that were offered.
This will just be my experience (pun intended) of the event.

This year I did not present a session, mainly because the process to submit one was very unclear, and I did not want to fight against smoke. And last precision, it was only my second Experiences, and I never attended its predecessor, Techdays.

As I said, it is a two-days event, split between a business day and a technical day. I attended both, as my role is also split between the two aspects. I found that the distinction was very visible regarding the content of the various sessions, apart from the keynotes (and Partner Back to School session). Overall the technical level is rather low, but most of MS staff is onsite and you can have very interesting discussions with them, as well with the other attendees.

A word on the attendees : there are very different groups in there. I have met with numerous Psellers and MVPs, as well as Microsoftees. Obviously, there are many customers and partners around, some of them just for show, some with a very specific project/problem in mind. And there are people that I am not accustomed to see in business events, but who bring a refreshing variety to the general attendee population. These are both students from multiple schools (engineering, but not only), and employees who managed to get their managers to approve because the event is free.
I am not sure whether it is the case in other countries, but in France we usually have difficulties getting approval to travel abroad and pay for a conference. It is not always true with every company, but it has been widespread enough that some European-wide events are replicated to a smaller scale in France to allow French techies to get the content as well.

Back to the event itself, the rhythm was rather intense this year and I missed many sessions, to be able to meet and discuss with everyone I wanted to. As it is with all event, the quality of a session is very dependent on the quality of the speaker. The ones I attended were very good and made a lot of effort to stay focused on their topic and keep everyone on board.
About the keynotes, well they were of the expected quality, on par with Inspire, with several videos, demos, interviews etc. As was the case with Ignite, some talks were highly specific (to AI or Quantum computing) and made me believe that Satya Nadella is taking some moves from Elon Musk. It was very different from the Tech’Ed days were we were shown the new interface for System Center, or a new tablet.

The buzzword this year at Experiences was AI (it was Blockchain last year). I have to admit that the AI Hackademy included some very interesting ideas and startups. I did not manage to visit them all but I was pretty impressed to see so many startups working on the subject, and bringing fresh ideas and concepts to our world.

All right, everything was very positive, I am convinced. I will share one mildly negative thought though : AI was sometimes thinly stretched over a piece of software or idea. I’ve seen some interesting uses of statistics, or even good programming and algorithms, but to say these were truly AI was going a bit far. At least that’s my opinion, but we may not all have the same definition… as for what is a cloud 🙂

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