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July 16, 2020

Reflections on Virtual MVP Summit 2020

For the past three mornings, I’ve been sitting at my desk, headset on, staring at my left-hand 27″ monitor. That’s where I’ve got Teams running, and where the Windows 10 related sessions at this year’s MVP Summit run their courses. I blogged about Teams itself as part of this experience yesterday. Today, my thoughts are wandering a bit further afield. They come, in large part, thanks to a session on the many and various Windows Communities active online to help users find encouragement, information, and support. Pondering the current state of things, I realized several things about this iteration of the MVP Summit. I’ll share them in the form of a Pros & Cons list below.

Reflections Lead to Pros and Cons

1. It’s definitely much cheaper and more convenient to attend virtually from home. I’ve been able to get a lot more “real work” done while also attending a conference.
2. The online experience enables immediate access to documents, URLs, and online resources while the conference is underway. This enriches the experience.
3. I’ve been able to tune into more sessions this time around, because I don’t need to catch a bus from one location to get to the next. And because some physical session sequences don’t work given a 10-minute window to get from one to the next, with too much ground to cover in too little time, I haven’t had to pick sessions on the basis of reachability as well as open seats. That’s great!
1. I miss the camaraderie and face-to-face interaction with my fellow Windows Insider MVPs and “our” Microsoft support team (especially the inimitable and irrepressible Joe Camp).
2. I miss the fun of traveling to another location, and getting out of my usual workaday routine. This time, my routine is time-shifted (to make room for the session timeslots) but is otherwise unchanged. If anything, my days are longer and harder right now than they would be if I’d foregone the conference and stayed home, or if I’d attended the conference and dropped my usual daily routine (except for blog posting, which seldom stops for me, even on vacation).
3. I miss the shared meals, especially the various Microsoft-hosted dinners, that are part of coming to Redmond/Bellevue to attend in person. Not just the food and drink, but again, the opportunity to laugh, cry, and drink with my peers and friends.
4. Because I’m sitting at my production desktop PC right next to both of my phones (landline and cell), I can and do occasionally get distracted from the MVP sessions I’m virtually attending. Over the past 3 days, I’ve probably missed 30 minutes out of the 12 hours of content I’ve been sitting in on, just because of necessary interruptions. That wouldn’t have happened if I had gone to the Microsoft campus because I could’ve ducked incoming calls and returned them later.

Learning to Conference and WFH

It seems there’s a bit of a learning curve involved in getting the most out of a conference while still also working from home (WFH). I’m still figuring out how to make the best of my time and attention. I also have to thank my family (my son’s on an extended Spring Break this week thanks to the coronavirus situation, and my wife’s always around the house). They’ve been very good about not interrupting me. They’ve also been flexible about the mid-day mealtime, which has now shifted to between 2 and 3 PM, because I’m busy with sessions from 10 AM until 2 PM each day.

It’s been fascinating to hear about all the new changes and developments underway at Microsoft to improve and extend Windows 10 and its supporting infrastructure. I wish I could tell you all more about that stuff, dear readers. But alas, I cannot. I signed an NDA before I was allowed to partake of this information. Also each and every session at the MVP Summit begins with a reminder about the NDA. It then goes on to note that unless the presenter explicitly says some item of information is for public consumption, everything is considered confidential and not for sharing. What I can say is that lots of cool stuff is on its way (or under active development). I can also say I’m pretty sure I’ll have plenty of blogging material to share with you when MS indicates that specific items are now cleared for public disclosure.

So, as always, please stay tuned. I’ll tell what I can, when I can.

Author: Ed Tittel

Ed Tittel is a 30-plus-year computer industry veteran. He’s a Princeton and multiple University of Texas graduate who’s worked in IT since 1981 when he started his first programming job. Over the past three decades he’s also worked as a manager, technical evangelist, consultant, trainer, and an expert witness. See his professional bio for all the details.

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