As you know, we started our US Windows Vista, Exchange Server 2007 and 2007 Office System launch events last week. If you have not already signed up for one, go to http://www.microsoft.com/business/launch2007/signup/default.mspx and do it fast. Many of the venue locations are already at capacity and beyond wait listing.
Last Tuesday, the MSDN and TS2 teams had some challenges in the morning getting some of the registration systems off and running. This of course created a bottleneck at the registration desks and just like rush hour traffic, it is very hard to clear the backlog. We made some adjustments after that and I think you'll find the registration process was much smoother on Thursday and should be from here on out.
Another thing we learned is that the ink in the Launch 2007 Resource Kit isn't waterproof. That's a huge hint folks. If you want to inspect the kit, don't do it in the rain. The download product key is on the inside and if you get it wet, you may mess up your chances of getting the free download of Office Professional 2007 and Office Groove 2007.
Another thing we learned is that we are pretty good at estimating drop off rates. Usually for a live seminar, about fifty percent of the people that register actually show up. When we do product launches where free software is in play, that percentage is much lower for obvious reasons. With that in mind, we book rooms around those estimates. This is similar to what happens with the airlines. Essentially, you overbook the room by a percentage and if you're good you don't have to turn anyone away. We turned away eleven people last week. By turned away I mean we didn't have a seat. They still got the software. Out of close to ten thousand registrations, I'd say we did pretty damn good.
We learned you have lots of questions. The IT Pro track is a little different than prior TechNet content modules. We have reduced the number of PowerPoint slides to such a small number, it's almost a joke. So now, instead of "Death by PowerPoint" it's "Death by Demos". I think this is very healthy. You get a little over three hours of pure demos and question/answer time.
Questions are very hard to manage in such large crowds so don't be surprised if you aren't called on. Presenters aren't trying to ignore you, just manage the time and keep things moving so they cover all of the ground they are expected to cover. There is another thing to keep in mind about breaks and after the presenter is done. During breaks, we are usually shutting down the prior module virtual machines and starting the VM's for the next module. Doing that and trying to answer questions is extremely difficult, by we try hard. Same thing for after the IT Pro Track has concluded. Usually we have the Develop Track presenter standing behind us wanting the stage. We have several hours left in the day so please be patient in that timeframe around 11:50am - 12:15pm. After we get our stuff packed up and out of the way of the next presenter, we can chat at length.
The last thing I wanted to say about last week is thank you. Thanks for coming. Thanks for being engaged. I had a lot of fun in New Orleans and Baton Rouge. Lots of good questions and several I'll be following up on via email and my blog. I hope you had fun. It certainly looks like the IT Pro Track content is a hit and I look forward to the events coming up. Hopefully Oklahoma City and Tulsa will thaw out.