Microsoft WinHEC Returns from Hiatus, Kicks off in China

WinHEC, or the Windows Hardware Engineering Conference, ran from 1992 to 2008. The annual software and hardware developer trade show and business conference was later merged into the BUILD conference.

But, Microsoft is announcing its return.

In March of 2015, WinHEC will reopen. Throughout its history, the event had never delivered outside the US, but next year will mark its first foray beyond its home borders. Running from March 18th to the 19th, the inaugural re-unveiling will take place in Shenzhen, China and news about a similar event in Taipei is scheduled to announce soon.

The timing and location is significant.

As we know, Microsoft has been facing significant woes from the Chinese government over potential antitrust issues concerning Windows, Office, the Cloud, and most anything else the company has attempted to do in the country. Just this week, Microsoft’s CEO, Satya Nadella, made his first trip to China in an effort to assure Chinese leaders that Microsoft is intent on cooperating fully and sees the country as significant part of its business.

In addition, China is currently developing its own state-sponsored operating systems to replace Windows as the officially approved computing environment. Windows XP, the now defunct version of Windows, is still used widely by the Chinese people.

Putting these nuggets together, reopening WinHEC in China makes perfect sense. It shows China that it’s important to Microsoft, gets Chinese hardware manufacturers on board with Windows, allows Microsoft to promote its Cloud future, and helps keep it relevant amid some recently reported Cloud wins in the country by IBM.

Microsoft is also altering the name of the event just a bit. Keeping WinHEC as the acronym, the company is changing the name to the Windows Hardware Engineering Community (instead of conference). This is important since, in addition to a technical conference, Microsoft wants to also deliver smaller, more frequent workshops under the same name. If you were privy to the old Microsoft Management Summit days, there would be one big conference, but then Microsoft would deliver “MMS Roadshows” through the year, allowing it to continue its message delivery to more people and for a longer period of time. WinHEC (the community) will follow a similar path.

As noted earlier, WinHEC was merged into BUILD. Microsoft has been in conference consolidation mode over the past couple years, killing MMS and merging it into TechEd, and then killing off TechEd and merging 5 different, product-specific events into an, as yet, unnamed event for IT Pros in the Spring of 2015 in Chicago. It was assumed that Microsoft would settle on three big events: BUILD, WPC, and TechEd 2 (or, whatever it will eventually be called). Now, it seems the consolidation practice is over with the addition of this new event in kicking off in China.

You can read more about the new WinHEC at the official event web site: https://www.winhec.net

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