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Microsoft Revives Its WinHEC Hardware Dev Event

Microsoft is relaunching its WinHEC event for hardware developers.

The next WinHEC technical event will be held in Shenzhen, China on March 18 and 19, according to Microsoft's announcement today. Microsoft also plans to establish a WinHEC event in Taiwan, although the dates haven't been announced yet.

A preview event showcasing Microsoft's next Windows (code-named "Threshold") will take place on Tuesday, Sept. 30. The actual rollout, though, is rumored for the spring of 2015.

WinHEC, which had been Microsoft's longstanding acronym for the "Windows Hardware Engineering Conference," is getting a slight name change. Microsoft now says that WinHEC is an abbreviation for the "Windows Hardware Engineering Community."

The WinHEC event is designed to pull together executives and engineers from three-letter-acronym partnering organizations, such as "OEMs, ODMs, IHVs, and IDHs" working with Windows technologies for various devices. Typically, attendees would be engineers concerned with desktop and mobile Windows, as well as Windows Embedded, but Microsoft has also included Windows Server in its past WinHEC events.

The faster pace of device development is such that Microsoft plans to evolve WinHEC to be "more than a single annual conference." It plans to roll out "technical conferences and smaller, more frequent, topic focused workshops that are local to the hardware ecosystem hubs," according to the announcement.

The decision to revive WinHEC isn't too surprising. Microsoft has been trying to catch up with the mobile operating system leads of Android and iOS. In addition, Microsoft itself entered the tablet-PC market with the announcement of its new line of Surface devices on June 18, 2012, which came as somewhat of a shock to its hardware partners. At the time, Microsoft claimed that it was trying to show what its hardware partners could do by creating the Surface device.

The mobile OS competition has affected Microsoft's past OS dominance with Windows. Gartner reported flat growth for PC shipments in the second quarter. Meanwhile, the Windows Phone mobile OS market share dropped to 2.5 percent in the second quarter, according to IDC stats.

Traditional Windows PC builders have reacted to the market shift. Samsung recently stopped selling Windows laptops and Chromebooks in European markets, according to a recent report, which also noted that Sony had taken a similar course because of the declining market.

However, the decision to reinstate WinHEC tends to go against the grain of Microsoft's recent corporate decision making. For instance, in July of this year, Microsoft announced that it was consolidating all its IT pro events into a unified commercial technology event, planned for May 4 next year. This unified event will consolidate Microsoft's SharePoint Conference, Lync Conference, Exchange Conference, Project Conference and TechEd events.

The WinHEC event also underwent a consolidation, but that happened after 2008. The long-running event first got folded into Microsoft's Professional Developers Conference. Next, Microsoft supplanted its PDC event with its current Build event for developers.

About the Author

Kurt Mackie is senior news producer for the 1105 Enterprise Computing Group.

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