Microsoft's Windows Hardware Engineering Conference (WinHEC) 2001 is the tenth year that Microsoft gathers the hardware world around it, and sets the agenda for developments in hardware and drivers. It's mostly a to and fro between Microsoft and vendors like Intel, or an OEM like Compaq. Sometimes Microsoft is pushing for something that the hardware guys don't want to do because, they can't see anyone using it, and sometimes it's the hardware guys pushing Microsoft to give them way of getting their nifty little designs supported by Windows. Everything from a new bus to quadratic texture mapping on a graphics chip. It all has to be blessed by Microsoft, otherwise it ain't easy to get a product working for all the PC OEMs, and get the customers behind it.
This year, WinHEC was held in Anaheim, California, better known as the home of Disneyland. There were about 2200 developers attending from around the world, and not that many press. Of course, Intel, at their developer conference, had the benefit of being in San Jose, which got them a big crowd of the Valley audience. WinHEC suffered this year, compared to previous years, coming at a time of slowdown in the PC industry when vendors and OEMs are less likely to be pursuing new business as much as just trying to keep their heads above water.
The other important thing is Microsoft does a very good job of supporting developers, for all its faults. They've had XP for a while. They know what they are aiming at, and in some cases, the amount of work required in transitioning products and drivers from Windows 2000 to Windows XP may not be all that significant. It's been a long time coming. Still, I find WinHEC more interesting then other PC developer shows because, you get a much better perspective on the hardware knowing what the programmers of software thinking should be happening.