TechEd 2000 begins with comedy, quickly turns to XML, Exchange 2K

Microsoft's TechEd 2000 began with a bang, but talk quickly turned to XML and Exchange 2000. Get the skinny from our man on the scene, Chris Tellez.

As thousands of attendees waited for Microsoft chief Bill Gates to make his appearance yesterday at TechEd 2000 in Orlando, FL, several advertisers were peddling their wares on the big screens above. Microsoft itself even had an ad. It featured Ali Landry (The Doritos Girl), Gary Coleman, Bruno Campos (Jesse), Cindy Williams (Shirley from Laverne and Shirley), Don Knotts, and Anthony Michael Hall (Sixteen Candles, Breakfast Club).

“Sissy boy”
Each star tried to explain highly technical features of Windows 2000—and, of course, each struggled humorously to do so. Some of the highlights:
  • Ali Landry calling the Linux penguin a sissy boy and beating the heck out of him
  • Anthony Michael Hall, who played Bill Gates in the cable TV movie The Pirates of Silicon Valley, saying “I’m not Bill Gates, but I do play him on TV.”

The overall message of the day? Windows 2000 kicks butt.

First up was Chris Atkinson from Microsoft. He briefly described some of the statistics of the ever-growing TechEd. The first TechEd had about 3,000 attendees. TechEd 2000 was projected to have 10,000; but the total attendance reached 14,000.

After discussing how Microsoft listens to IT professionals (I’m just reporting what I heard), and stating that our success is Microsoft’s success, it was time for Mr. Gates. He came out of a booth filled with smoke and lights to fairly warm applause.

You will take it with you
The topic of his keynote was the evolution of the Web with the advent of Next Generation Web Services (NGWS). According to Microsoft, it’s working on making the Web more personalized. There will be a more natural interface, such as actually writing an e-mail with some type of pen connected to the PC, or a computer the size of a notepad. Take it with you to a meeting, make your notes, and you’ll be able to access information at the touch of a button.

Microsoft is also working to make it easier for people to put their home videos and photos on their computers. (You may want to tell your IT Manager to begin purchasing larger hard drives now.) With that, Bill introduced a little video that was put together by the folks in Redmond.

Laughter’s the best medicine
The video started with the McLaughlin Group discussing Microsoft and its position in the antitrust case. They questioned whether Microsoft could hold its position and continue to be successful. From there, the crowd was treated to several spoofs, the highlights being:
  • Austin Gates—International Man of Software: It was hilarious to see Bill dressed like Austin Powers dancing with bikini-clad women. His tag phrase: “I put the syn in syntax!” Also featured was Steve Ballmer as Dr. Evil.
  • Tom Brokaw, Diane Sawyer, Jeff Bezos, and Michael Dell in the Real World: Sun Valley, a hilarious takeoff on MTV’s Real World. This skit showed all four of them trying to get along in a time-share.
  • The video also showed Gates in court, only it wasn’t a federal court, it was Judge Judy’s courtroom. Warren Buffet was suing Bill Gates over $2.00 he won in a bridge game. His claim was that Bill pulled the plug on his computer just as Buffet won. Gates didn’t win.
  • Leslie Nielsen discussing the painful problem of HD: Hard Drive Dysfunction.

When the show returned to more serious matters, discussion turned to how XML will connect everything together, allowing for new forms of Web sites. Along with XML comes Simple Object Access Protocol (SOAP). SOAP will allow Web sites to pull information from other sites and interact with each other.

An impressive demonstration with SOAP was the creation of a COM object (Component Object Model) add-in for Outlook that took an English-formatted e-mail and translated it to another language as it went out. The code for the translation was located on another Web site, but it seamlessly performed the job.

Biz Talk
Next came Microsoft’s new program Biz Talk. Biz Talk can visually design and build dynamic business processes. A presentation demonstrated how using Biz Talk and XML together could create back-end programming that not only created an order, but also prompted the system to return a call to a cell phone at the show and confirm the order. With a simple click, e-mail notification could be added, as well.

Gates also described how Microsoft will be further innovating with the release this year of Windows 2000 Data Center Server, Windows 2000 64, Embedded Windows 2000, SQL 2000, Exchange 2000, App Center 2000, Biz Talk Server 2000, and Host Integration Server 2000. The overall goal? The continued development of the Internet.

With that, Bill Gates left the stage.

Exchange 2K is on the way
It’s time to get up to speed on Exchange 2000. It’s coming. Here’s just some of the information I learned down here in Orlando yesterday:
  • RC2 is the last release before it ships. No more RCs.
  • The Exchange 2000 production team’s goal for Exchange is high reliability and availability.
  • You can now move mailboxes into any container simply by right-clicking on the mailbox, selecting move, and choosing where you want to move it.
  • Task Wizard will help make normally laborious tasks easier.
  • The Mailbox Manager that currently comes with SP3 on Exchange 5.5 will not be available on Exchange 2000 until the release of SP1. They tried to get the current Mailbox Manager to work with Exchange 2000, but no luck.
  • No more admin.exe to administer Exchange. It’s all in the MMC!
  • IIS is required for Exchange 2000; you won’t be able to send SMTP/POP3 mail without it.
  • Plan! Plan! Plan! You won’t be able to just jump into this. You need to take it slow and careful in your migration.

At the end of the day, attendees hit the exhibit hall reception, where plenty of food and alcohol was served up. There was a large section devoted to vendor partners developing tools for Exchange. For the most part, that seemed to be the theme for many of the vendors: Exchange 2000. The tools were mostly for the backup, protection, and monitoring of Exchange.

Microsoft was passing out copies of Exchange 2000 RC2 and providing demonstrations, which had high attendance. Of course, there were plenty of companies offering training on Windows 2000 to prep you for Exchange 2000.

I have to call it a day for now; my brain can’t take anymore. Stay tuned though, as I’ll bring you more from Orlando tomorrow when the show continues, including upcoming changes in Microsoft certification.

Christopher Tellez is a network manager based in Southern California. He earned his MCSE in 1997.

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