Misco Expo 12, one of the UK's foremost technology showcases, took place in London's distinctive Old Billingsgate venue last Friday, with around 1,500 industry professionals – drawn from a range of small businesses, multinational corporations, and public sector organisations – thought to have attended the action-packed day.
The event featured over 75 of the world's leading tech manufacturers, with the exhibitor directory reading like a who's who of influential firms: the likes of Acer, Cisco, Dell, IBM, Microsoft, Panasonic, Samsung, and Toshiba nestling alongside Asus, Canon, Epson, LG, Sony, HP and many others.
Indeed, one of the day's greatest pleasures was simply meandering around the centre checking out the latest gadgets and speaking with some of the people behind them. Peripherals in particular caught the eye, with a number of manufacturers showing off the kind of classy yet ultra-functional tablet docking stations needed to enable total convergence. Even if I'm not totally sold on the idea of a one-device world, I love the idea of a keyboard, trackpad, and dock that all folds up into the size of a small book and slips into my briefcase or rucksack.
The event had a number of further selling points, ranging from the school of serious business – Misco's Enterprise Solutions Provider team was on-hand to offer expert advice and insight – to the comparatively trivial but still essential: the facility housed a decent range of food and drink options as well as solid Wi-Fi in the 'Network Café.'
But arguably most enticing from an enterprise perspective was Misco Expo 12's keynote seminar series, which ITProPortal was pleased to sponsor.
Featuring five speakers - for more on the series, see our exclusive interview with cloud computing expert and Workbooks.com sales director Ian Moyse - sharing their in-depth insight into some of the key technologies currently changing the world of IT.
Having already travelled to TechEd Europe 12 in Amsterdam for a crash course in Windows 8, I was somewhat inevitably drawn to James Akrigg's talk on Windows 8 and the enabling of flexible workstyles.
Speaking to a full capacity audience, Mr Akrigg – Microsoft's head of technology for partners – described Windows 8 as a "transformative" IT experience that both reflected and expanded on key industry trends.
Windows 8, he said, was "a platform where you're not making compromises," and he touted it as an essential upgrade for people who may still be deploying the (highly serviceable) Windows XP iteration. Pointing out that Windows XP will go into end-of-life mode in April 2014, Akrigg subtly implied that the time is now ripe for users of older Microsoft operating systems to upgrade.
Interestingly, he also hinted at a lack of complacency on the part of his company, venturing that while he was convinced Microsoft's latest OS was as accomplished a product as the company had ever released, he was equally sure that they would find innovative ways to improve it.
"It should just work. I'm not going to say we're going to do it [reach perfection] with Windows 8 because we're already working on Windows 9."
Was this the sly dig at rival Apple – currently not so much on the back-foot over its latest product offerings as missing a leg altogether - us bloodthirsty hacks were hoping for?
Whatever the case, Akrigg reasserted his conviction that Windows 8 represented a transformative step for Microsoft, its enterprise user base, and more casual PC-heads alike.
"You name it, our hardware vendors are bringing innovation through the power of Windows 8," he concluded.
Good old fashioned gadget gawking, expert insight from a variety of sources, and a free sandwich to boot – you couldn't really ask for much more from a free technology showcase, could you? Misco Expo 12 was certainly one of the highlights of our year to date, so if you forgot to mark it down in your diary this year, make sure to keep an eye out for Misco's next tech bonanza, coming in 2013.