I’m not sure where the year went but I know that the developers and IT Pros of New Zealand have had a very busy year in tech. Each month, members of my team (and special guests) use this newsletter to bring you updates on what’s happening in the world of Microsoft, offering great insight and technical depth – but not this month! Instead I thought I’d take you through my personal highlights of the year. And of course, it wouldn’t be Christmas without presents... Imagine Cup – each year we step up this competition, and in 2011 it culminated in the Microsoft Imagine Cup Festival held at the University of Auckland Business School. Twenty teams presented prototypes that showed technology solving the world’s toughest problems – battling to take out the ultimate prize of competing in the worldwide finals in New York City. Team OneBuzz won the NZ competition, and placed in the top six worldwide. I was lucky enough to be there and it really made me proud to see NZ do so well, two years in a row! Tech·Ed – remains an incredibly popular event, even after sixteen years. This year was no exception with over 2,000 attendees enjoying three days of non-stop tech goodness from 149 speakers presenting 170 sessions. Given the continued success of this event, I’m happy to announce that Microsoft Tech·Ed New Zealand 2012 will run from Tuesday the 4th to Friday the 7th of September, at SKYCITY in Auckland. //Build – at the Build conference held in Anaheim in September, we unveiled the Windows 8 developer story and, I think, inspired and surprised most punters. The preview downloads went crazy and it’s safe to say there’s a lot of pent up demand for this reimagining of Windows… and are you noticing a lot of metro design styling popping up everywhere? Windows Phone 7.5 – aKa Mango – brought a whole pile of new features to Windows Phone. If you haven’t experienced this incredible operation system yet, pester someone who has one, or even try it out on your iPhone or Android device . On the hardware side, Nokia came out with an extremely cool launch for their Lumia range in London recently. Microsoft New Zealand was proud to be an official sponsor of the Rugby World Cup 2011 – helping to provide a great online viewing experience to rugby fans around the world that were unable to make it to New Zealand for the Tournament. Windows Azure – continues to attract attention from all kinds of developers, from start-ups to enterprise. The initial hype of “the Cloud” is now being replaced by a general pragmatism that cloud is an important new computing model option – with great economic benefits. We saw some world-leading work done in this area from NZ companies like GreenButton. ‘Tis the Season for Giving… This time last year, we gave away an XBOX as part of a competition. So we’ve dubbed the final flash newsletter of each year our “Annual Christmas Giveaway Edition”. This year, I’d like to give away a brand new Windows Phone. We have to make it fair, so it will be a random draw. And I want to make it as easy as possible for you to enter the competition, so all you have to do is follow @TechNetNZ on Twitter. Is it really that easy? Yes. Yes it is. Well, obviously there are some terms and conditions, listed at the very bottom of this newsletter. I thought about adding a condition that you can’t unfollow us straight after the prize is drawn, but I’m not worried about that – once you see the quality stream of updates and interesting tidbits that we surface via Twitter, I’m confident that you will want to stay following us. It’s a really great way to keep up with the latest in the technical space from Microsoft. So what are you waiting for? Head on over to twitter.com/technetnz and tap follow. If you're already one of our followers, congratulations - you're already in the draw! Oh, and one more thing. You’re going to find out anyway, so I might as well tell you. We are running the exact same competition in our sister newsletter, the NZ MSDN Flash for Developers. So feel free to follow @msdnNZ to go in the draw for another Windows Phone, but know that these tweets are aimed at a different (non-IT pro!) audience. If you care about Visual Studio, ASP.NET, Windows Azure, HTML5 and - of course - Windows 8 metro apps, then you might want to tune in for good. We’ve enjoyed bringing the world of Microsoft to you this year. From the whole DPE team we wish you and your family a safe and relaxing break over the Christmas period, and a very happy new year. Catch you back in front of your screen in 2012! Scott Wylie.