While attending Microsoft Tech Ed 2006 last week, I worked through several Hands-on Labs at Tech Ed 2006. Located in each of the exhibition hall's Technical Learning Centers, the Hands-on Labs
gave Tech Ed 2006 attendees a chance to play with a variety of
Microsoft products. I decided to try the Windows Vista labs.
You can see more photos of my Hands-on Lab experience in this gallery:
Each lab station had a monitor, keyboard, mouse, and lab
manual. The labs appeared to run on Microsoft Virtual PC and used a custom GUI
interface developed by HynesITe, Inc. Unfortunately, my lab experience was less
than perfect. Before I started the first exercise, a lab worker approached me
and suggested that once the lab started I turn off Windows Vista's Search
feature. Apparently the new Windows Search feature doesn't play nicely with
Microsoft Virtual PC. Instead of indexing the virtual machine's C: drive,
Windows Search tries to index the machine's real C: drive. This made the labsrun extremely slow, to the point they were unusable.
I started the first lab and walked through the process
shutting down Windows Search. This took approximately 10 minutes. Once the
lab started I also had trouble accessing the virtual machines. What appeared on
my screen didn't perfectly match the lab manual and it took me several minutes
to make sure I was logged on to the appropriate machine with the correct
account. After at least 15 minutes of frustration, I was finally ready to workthrough the lab.
I chose a lab designed to showcase Vista's new management
features and walked through the labs step-by-step instructions, which were easy
to follow. Despite having disabled Windows Search, the machine still ran much slower
than I expected. When I asked the person sitting next to me if their machine
was running slow, he told me it wasnt. Im not sure if my sluggish machine was
an isolated issue or not, but it made the lab extremely tedious. If the speed
wasnt enough to deal with, I also received a few error messages while working
with the Windows Vista MMC. After three labs, I gave up and head on to my nextBreakout Session.
Other attendees have told me that they love the Hands-on
Labs and didnt have any problems. My problems may have been isolated events. Yet,
with so much to see and do at Tech Ed, I didnt have time to wait for the labsand was disappointed I couldnt try more of them.
Bill Detwiler has nothing to disclose. He doesn't hold investments in the technology companies he covers.
Bill Detwiler is Managing Editor of TechRepublic and Tech Pro Research and the host of Cracking Open, CNET and TechRepublic's popular online show. Prior to joining TechRepublic in 2000, Bill was an IT manager, database administrator, and desktop support specialist in the social research and energy industries. He has bachelor's and master's degrees from the University of Louisville, where he has also lectured on computer crime and crime prevention.