Windows Phone 7, Kinect showcased at Microsoft Durban conference

Over 2 500 IT professionals and tech-geeks from around South Africa and the wider continent have converged on Durban’s International Convention Centre for the 2010 installment of the annual Microsoft Tech-Ed Africa conference.

The conference, possibly the largest IT gathering in Africa, kicked off on Sunday evening with a keynote address from Microsoft’s Chief Technology Officer (CTO) of Worldwide Services, Norm Judah. Judah is no stranger to South Africa: He earned his first degree (in electrical engineering) from Wits University before heading abroad in the mid-70s. He has worked for Microsoft for the past 20 years, and has built an impressive reputation as a speaker and a strategic thinker around IT.

Judah’s talk was about how Microsoft is striving towards simplifying our lives and focused on how we increasingly want the “Monday morning technology experience” to be the same as the “Sunday evening experience”, with full access to the same data and devices.

At the TechEdAfrica event, Microsoft is showing off its much-anticipated Windows Phone 7 Series and controller-free Kinect gaming system -– both of which are launching in South Africa during November.

Microsoft will also be highlighting some of its key cloud-based technologies, including its Lync collaboration platform and recent releases like SQL Server 2008 R2 and Office 2010.

Sunday’s other keynote speaker was Mteto Nyati, Microsoft South Africa’s MD, who explained how cloud computing was becoming a significant part of many conversations on the net. “IT Professionals are looking for more guidance, standards, support and clarity as they begin to plan for cloud. To get it right, we’ll have to collaborate with business on the answers to these key questions, about business goals and how best to bring IT experience and innovation to the table,” said Nyati.

The newly launched Windows Phone 7 talks have been a hot ticket, with people wanting to know more about the pending launch of the mobile device in South Africa. The official line is that we should see a mid-November launch, with one model of the handset being launched.

Questions such as “Will there be an app marketplace in South Africa?” have been met with negative answers, with Microsoft execs explaining that we may have to wait a bit longer to see the full effect of the entire Windows Phone 7 eco-system.

Tech-Ed Africa is also due to feature announcements of several new and upcoming technologies which Microsoft believes will enable IT professionals and developers to help their organisations save money and improve efficiencies.



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