Microsoft Moves TechEd, WinHEC Shows out of New Orleans
More than 13 months after Hurricane Katrina came ashore, Microsoft confirmed Monday that it is moving three of its annual conferences, including two of its largest shows, out of New Orleans -- at least temporarily.
The reason, a Microsoft spokesperson said, is due primarily to a continued lack of reliable airline service into and out of the Crescent City. "[The shows were moved] because of the logistics of moving that many people in or out of the airport," he said.
Among the shows moved for 2007 are Microsoft's popular TechEd and Windows Hardware Engineering Conferences (WinHEC). The third show that will move for now is Microsoft’s annual gathering of its internal worldwide sales staff , Microsoft Global Experience (MGX).
The city is a popular destination for many tech conferences -- thanks to its spacious Ernest N. Morial convention center, which served as a haven for locals driven out of their homes by the hurricane last year -- as well as to the city's unique polyglot cultural stew that made it a tourism hot spot prior to last year's storm.
TechEd, the company's conference for technology professionals, was held in Boston last spring, drawing 11,000 attendees, the company said at the time. The 2007 conference was scheduled for June 3 through 8 in New Orleans.
WinHEC, for hardware engineers, designers and developers, has normally been held in Seattle in recent years, but was set to be held next May 22 through 24 in New Orleans. WinHEC typically draws around 4,000, the company said.
If not for the logistical issues, however, the shows would still be scheduled there. "They [Microsoft officials] want to get back to New Orleans as soon as the infrastructure allows," the spokesperson said.
Microsoft has not yet announced where the shows will be relocated or whether their dates will change.
Stuart J. Johnston has covered technology, especially Microsoft, since February 1988 for InfoWorld, Computerworld, Information Week, and PC World, as well as for Enterprise Developer, XML & Web Services, and .NET magazines.