TECHED - Kearns' column: Will Gates look for sympathy?

I'm in Orlando this week for Microsoft's TechEd conference - a geekfest right up there with Novell's BrainShare for the title of most acronyms per minute in a presentation. By the time you read this, the Monday morning opening keynote session will be finished. I'm writing this, though, before it happens, and it's interesting to speculate on what "William (Bill) H. Gates" (that's what it says in the program) will say.

The prespeech notes I have indicate that the topic of his talk will be "Microsoft's strategy for Next Generation Web Services (NGWS)." Of course, Microsoft postponed the announcement of NGWS last week, putting off their press and analyst dog-and-pony show (Forum2000) until June 22. Does that mean NGWS will be a no-show in the keynote?

Generally in these events, many of the scheduled sessions (there are 256 at TechEd) tie the technology to the keynote theme - if you went to BrainShare, recall how many times you heard the acronym "DENIM" after Novell's Directory-Enabled Network Infrastructure strategy was introduced at the keynote. So if NGWS is eliminated from the keynote address, will there be blank slides in the presentations?

Or will its time be filled by a discussion of the event that forced the postponement of Forum2000 - the handing down of penalties in the Microsoft antitrust case? Gates has been very reluctant to discuss the trial in any venue where questions might be asked (such as the recent CEO Summit in Redmond, Wash.), but TechEd should be a sympathetic audience - probably the best arena for making Microsoft's case in public.

Whatever Gates does, you can read about it on Network World Fusion (www.nwfusion. com/). You can even watch a replay of the keynote at your leisure at http://msdn.microsoft.com/events/te webcast/, which will also let you view selected sessions of the conference.

If you're at the conference, let me know what you thought of the keynote, the court's judgment, NGWS or anything else. If you want to know my take on the events at TechEd, subscribe to the Focus on Windows Networking newsletter (www.nwfusion. com/focus/) where I'll give you the inside view over the next couple of weeks.

Kearns, a former network administrator, is a freelance writer and consultant in Austin, Texas. He can be reached at wired@vquill.com.

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