As others have blogged already, Microsoft hosted our worldwide technical community last week at a special conference here in Seattle.  I got to spend a couple days putting faces with the blogs and names in the ITE community that I've been chatting with for the past couple of months, in addition to attending some fantastic technical sessions.

There were a couple of specific technologies that I caught presentations on that were particularly cool.

Our virtualization story is just getting stronger and stronger.  Virtual Server 2005 R2 SP1 brings the first steps towards hardware assisted virtualization support, host clustering and failover, direct VHD mounting and support for shadow copy for backup purposes. (thanks to Rick for setting me straight on this one)

When Longhorn Virtualization ships it will offer Hypervisor technology.  Jeff Woolsey gave the best definition for Hypervisor I've heard yet:  "any time you see the word Hypervisor, just replace it with bare metal."  Essentially, the idea of a 'host' OS goes away with Longhorn Virtualization.  As long as you're leveraging processors with hardware assisted virtualization - a feature shipping on server-class procs from Intel and AMD for a little while now, you'll effectively be able to run multiple OS's concurrently right on top of the hardware.  That's cool.

Well, it's cool if you're a geek, anyway.

I also sat in while some of my co-workers ran labs highlighting the solution they have been putting together.  I'm not a dev, but what they've done is mock up a website that uses a bunch of new technologies - .net 3.0, wpf, wcf, Ajax, IIS7, etc.  The guys gave their presentations wearing chef smocks and hats, and rather than title slides with regular job titles, they were things like "pastry and pie chef."  It was a nice way to add some flavor to the topic.

In other news, I recently updated one of the machines at Home to Vista and Office 2007.  I didn't really give anyone any training on the new Office UI, as I was curious to see how hard it would be to pick up on - the Office team says they made it easy to get up to speed on, but the ribbon is different enough from previous versions that I wanted to see how it would really go in practice.  Neither the kids nor my wife was able to discover that the 'jewel' was clickable and had a menu hiding behind it for saving/printing/etc., but that's the only hint I had to give.  Nate actually commented that he really liked the Ribbon.  Nice work Office team - you impressed an otherwise hard to impress 15 year old.