I had a great conversation with some folks via Twitter last week on what they should expect at TechEd as this was their first trip. This will be my ninth TechEd and I sometimes forget what it’s like for folks that have never attended. So for my Twitter pals, this primer is for you.

What is TechEd? - TechEd is Microsoft’s premiere event for IT professionals and developers. It provides hands-on learning, awesome sessions, deep product exploration, and countless opportunities to build relationships with a community of Microsoft experts and your peers.

Where and when is it? - TechEd North America will take place in New Orleans, June 3- 6. There is also a TechEd Europe in Madrid, Spain on June 25 – 28.

What should I expect? - Expect days filled with sessions that will answer your questions, fill your brain till it feels like it will burst, excite you about new products and features, evenings filled with great networking opportunities and conversations that will go late into the evening. It’s going to be hot and humid in New Orleans in June so bring comfy clothes and good shoes for walking, as sessions are at all ends of the conference center. Plan your days in advance. Register for sessions and use the schedule builder so you know when and where every key session you want to attend is and so you don’t miss anything. There are some more great tips for 1st time attendees here.

Anything else? – Well, if you’re not certified, you can take advantage of this great opportunity to fulfill your certification requirements at a 50% discount at TechEd North America 2013. This opportunity is only available to registered TechEd North America 2013 attendees. Microsoft Certification can keep your skills relevant, applicable, and competitive, and with the Certification Center onsite at TechEd North America, you’ll have the chance to learn, practice, and talk one-on-one with the training experts on a variety of technologies. Microsoft Certification is an industry standard recognized worldwide.

Tell me more about the Windows Client Track-The Windows Client, Access & Management track focuses on four technology areas: Windows Client, Desktop Virtualization, User and Device Management, and Access & Information Protection. Sessions in this track help you plan, deploy, and manage Windows and applications. They help you understand the opportunities that the trends of consumerization and BYOD bring, empowering organizations with the knowledge to give their people the capability to work the way they want, on the devices they choose and how to enable those trends within your organization while keeping corporate policy and compliance standards.

What are some sessions I should plan to attend? There are tons but here are a few I recommend:

  • Everything You Ever Wanted to Know about Windows, But Were Afraid to Ask- Join Windows Product Managers Stephen Rose, Brad McCabe, Chris Hallum, Craig Ashley, and Michael Niehaus for an in-depth Q&A session covering all your questions ranging from features and security, through implementation and deployment. This is a great chance to meet the faces behind the product and get your key Windows questions answered by the experts.
  • How Many Coffees (New 2013 Edition) Can You Drink While Your PC Starts? - You can solve slow boot and slow logon in your enterprise! In this (new 2013 edition) “Case of…” style presentation we share real-world examples and insider tips from Microsoft IT and other enterprises on the causes of slow boot and slow logon. We measure user productivity gains/losses in terms of cups of coffee consumed while waiting for PC, but your business could measure the impact in millions of dollars per year. Be the hero that saves the Windows user experience from heavy handed management layers and badly behaving apps. We are living through a competitive “Bring Your Own Device” era where businesses are re-evaluating management control versus user satisfaction. Now is the time to achieve the right balance and optimize your Windows experience at work. In this session MC Stephen Rose sets the stage, while Matthew Reynolds from Microsoft Services walks you through diagnosis of the most common real-world slow boot and slow logon issues using the Windows Performance Toolkit. We also go beyond diagnostics to share stories of enterprises working their way toward improvement and some of the non-technical challenges they have overcome.
  • What's New in Windows 8 Deployment- Michael Niehaus - Now that Windows 8 is generally available, it is important for enterprises to begin integrating it into their plans. In this session, we dig into the technical aspects of Windows 8 deployment projects, including changes in the tools, technologies, and processes used for deploying.
  • Windows RT in the Enterprise- Michael Niehaus - In this session, learn about appropriate and inappropriate scenarios for using Windows RT in enterprise environments: challenges to overcome, as well as known issues and limitations.
  • Windows Store Apps: Enterprise LOB App Deployment Scenarios – Michael Niehaus- Using WinRT APIs and design principles, Windows 8, and Windows RT are introducing a new type of application. Enterprises are being encouraged to create these, as well as consume third-party apps. This session reviews the technical requirements, how side loading is performed, challenges that may be encountered in this process.
  • Securing Windows 8 Clients and Resources from Threats – Chris Hallum - Windows 8 offers a rich set of new features that change the game when it comes to Windows client security. Come join us to learn about one of the key scenarios that we’ve delivered which enables Windows 8 to secure clients and resources from threats in a completely new way. During this session we discuss Trusted Boot, Measured Boot, Remote Attestation, Virtual Smartcards, and even third-party features in the context of an end-to-end scenario where a company is able to ensure that a customer account is being accessed from a healthy device and is vetted using strong authentication before access to resources is granted.
  • Understanding Windows To Go: Supported Use Cases, Hardware Considerations, and Deployment Options in the Enterprise- Craig Ashley - With Windows 8 we redefined workforce mobility by introducing a new feature called Windows To Go, that enables enterprises to provide users a managed corporate environment on a USB drive that they can operate from multiple managed or unmanaged PCs. In addition to reviewing Windows To Go messaging, this session focuses on key supported use cases and deployment considerations, answering top frequently asked questions, and providing guidance on deploying and managing Windows To Go in the enterprise.

Will you be showing any cool devices in the Windows booth? - Yup. We’ll have cool stations showing off the latest hardware as well as experts to answer your questions on Windows 8, Windows 7, MDOP, Desktop Virtualization, Security, BYOD scenarios, and all up desktop management.

What if I want to purchase one of the devices? Will you be selling them? - For the first time at TechEd, attendees will be able to purchase Microsoft’s latest consumer products including Microsoft Surface, Windows 8 PCs, and Windows Phones directly from the onsite Microsoft retail store. Attendees will have the opportunity to connect with Microsoft store employees who can answer questions, provide technical support, and demo the products. Best off, you will be able to take home that device they you been eyeing!

What about the Springboard/Windows Community Party I keep hearing about? - I will be doing a blog post on the party in the next week or so. Last year the party sold out in less than an hour so make sure to keep an eye out for that post.

What if I am going to TechEd by myself? – My first year at TechEd I went by myself and came back with tons of new friends I still am close with today. Some of the friendliest folks at TechEd are members of TheKrewe. They are a group of IT pros from across North America and are some of the nicest folks I have met anywhere. Look for them wearing an azure blue hat with their twitter handle on the back and the words “TheKrewe” on the front. Just tell them that Stephen Rose and Springboard said I should meet you and voila! Conference buddy! Also, Microsoft MVP’s and MCT’s are also great people to meet. They are some of the top tech trainers, bloggers, forum supporters and user group leaders from across the world. They are great contacts for you to make.

Are there still opportunities to attend or is the show sold out? – There are still a few passes left so if you plan to attend, you should book today. Click here for information on registering for TechEd.

What if I can’t attend? – Well, we are sorry to miss you! Good news is that some of the sessions are recorded and will be available here on Channel 9.