Before IDF, there was the Windows Hardware Engineering Conference (WinHEC). It started eleven years ago. That's when there were too many developers chasing too few Microsoft product managers. It didn't matter what hardware you built in those days, you had to be at WinHEC to figure out how to make it work, and to find out where Microsoft would hide certain files you needed on their developer disks. It was like technical support and developer therapy for an industry growing too fast to keep up with its own success.
In the last couple of years, WinHEC has lost out in terms of coverage to Intel's Developer Forum (IDF), a grander, more expensive, and more pushy PR effort. Seeing as hardware doesn't do much without software, and Microsoft seems to have a monopoly in the PC arena, it's worth giving WinHEC a wide berth, and using it as a reality check.
The sad thing is that with Microsoft's recent anti-trust woes, company execs just don't have that same pep, and arrogance of the past. They've become almost too nice and friendly. Jim Allchin, group vice president of the Platforms Division at Microsoft, kicked off the conference and, as if to illustrate the new Microsoft exec credo, said at one point, "We have a statement inside Microsoft: We have to be more transparent."
Where's the naked ambition and greed, guys? That's about as transparent as we can handle.