Convention exhibitors usually deliver good swag to attendees but from now on pens, stress balls and notepads will be just passÃ©.
This year Microsoft is giving a HP Mini 2140 netbook to every paid attendee, although people can opt to return theirs at the end of the event to be re-used in community programmes.
The HP Mini 2140 is aimed at the business end of the market. Along with the typical Intel Atom processor it stands out from “regular” netbooks by its stylish aluminium shell.
Undoubtedly the Tech-Ed content will be engaging but to my mind there’s a fascinating story behind the scenes, with 2,575 netbooks being unpacked, imaged with Windows 7 and then all set running simultaneously next week in a single WiFi network.
Nick Hodge has uploaded a short video showing the netbooks being processed. He describes 13-14 long trestle tables, each with an average of 20 machines laid out, and eight staff swarming about unboxing and firing off installs.
Next week Tech-Ed begins, but significantly, next week also sees a whopping two-and-a-half-thousand Windows 7 devices put into production.
Which version of Windows 7 has Microsoft chosen and what other applications are included in the image? Will the convention WiFi network handle the cumulative weight of all the units? Will a netbook prove to be a usable device for people to work and live off for a week?
This is possibly the biggest single stress-test that Windows 7 will have undergone. No matter what else is revealed or covered, one of the big stories next week will be the tech of Tech-Ed itself.
(Disclaimer: I am attending Tech-Ed 2009 as a guest of Microsoft. However, as I am not a paid attendee I am not expecting to receive one of the HP Mini 2140s.)