Once upon a time, over a dozen large technology conferences and trade shows dotted the landscape—from COMDEX and CTIA to TechEd and WinHEC. They had a mechanical regularity: details about Windows in the early spring, x86 chip announcements in early autumn, and COMDEX in November.
Intel says it has “evolved its event portfolio and decided to retire the [Intel Developers Forum] program moving forward.” As Anandtech reports, Intel’s shift to data played a role in its decision to axe IDF, as did its desire to host smaller gatherings aimed at specific segments.
But in addition to big product announcements, like the Intel Pentium 4 or Core processors, shows like the IDF and Microsoft’s WinHEC were opportunities for developers and the media to get deep dives on upcoming technologies, from the latest version of DirectX to esoteric details, like how IR cameras make Windows Hello more secure than previous facial-recognition methods. And while WinHEC returned in 2014 after a six-year hiatus, it’s now largely limited to China and consists of technical conferences and smaller workshops.
At larger shows, we couldn’t cover every session, but we were able to glean highlights that enhanced reviews and feature stories. WWDC still has breakout sessions, but attendance is limited to developers, so the press (and therefore the general public) can’t avail themselves of insider info. Developer support websites and webcasts have largely replaced these shows as a source of general and specialized information.
Ever since Apple left the Macworld Expo in 2008, it has kept its own sporadic release schedule. An iPhone- or Mac-related special event dominates the news cycle for a few days every year, so why would it share the spotlight at a larger trade show? Other manufacturers have tried to emulate this method, some more successfully than others. For example, Microsoft now uses special events to release Surface hardware and new iterations of its Windows operating system. You have to be a member of the press to attend, but they are live streamed across the world in seconds.
We’ll miss these big specialized shows, because they let us concentrate on things like microprocessor architecture or the intricacies of hardware support in an operating system for a week at a time. But rest assured, dear readers, PCMag will continue to cover events large and small in the years to come.