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Interview with Michael Niehaus about TechMentor 2012

With TechMentor almost upon us, we turn to myITforum fan favorite Michael Niehaus to give us some additional insight into the event.  Michael is giving two presentations at TechMentor this year:


Michael took some time out of his hugely busy schedule to answer some questions for us.  Michael has been traveling the globe recently, presenting at TechEd in both the US and Europe, and also visiting local User Groups to talk about the upcoming features of MDT 2012 updates.


Michael NiehausMichael Niehaus is a senior program manager in Microsoft’s Solution Accelerator Team responsible for the Microsoft Deployment Toolkit, a free collection of tools and guidance for deploying Windows and Office faster and more efficiently.  Prior to joining Microsoft in 2004, Michael spent his entire career in enterprise IT, focused on deploying and managing Microsoft software.


Me: Just so everyone knows, how long have you been working for Microsoft?

Michael: So I’ve been with Microsoft since 2004 and started working on MDT that same year, making the move to Redmond in August 2005.


Me: This year, TechMentor is at Microsoft HQ in Redmond.  Can you give readers any unique tips for visiting Microsoft?

Michael: It’s a big complex.  It looks like the sessions will be held in building 33, which is the conference center, and at the Commons, the newest complex on the campus.  Be sure to check out the company store near the Commons in building 92, and don’t miss the turf soccer fields near both complexes – it’s a great campus for walking around and checking out the sights.


Me: Do you have any preferred tourist destinations in Redmond or Seattle? Like special eateries?

Michael: It would be shameful if people came to Redmond and didn’t visit Seattle.  My “top 5” for Seattle:

  1. Take a ferry ride across Puget Sound to Bainbridge Island and back (a quick ride each way, but bring a jacket).
  2. Go to the top of the Space Needle.
  3. Check out the EMP/Sci-Fi Museum.
  4. Go to the Ballard Locks to see the salmon swimming upstream through the fish ladders.
  5. Visit Pike Place Market.

The activities around the Redmond area are more focused on the outdoors:  Bike trails, hiking trails, kayaking.  Or if you’re more of the indoors type, many of the hotels in the area are in downtown Bellevue, which has lots of restaurants and shopping.  It’s hard to go wrong with the Asian restaurants in the area: Thai, Indian, Vietnamese, Malaysian, Korean, etc.  Teriyaki and Mediterranean are also popular.  Two of the first places I ever ate near the Redmond campus are still among my favorites in the area: the Malay Satay Hut is very near campus, so it’s visited by lots of Microsoft employees; and the Mediterranean Kitchen in Bellevue serves huge portions of very garlicky (but good) food.  If you like spicy food, check out Bai Tong Thai Restaurant, also near campus, and go for the “authentic” level of spiciness.


Me: You are speaking at TechMentor this year, and presenting on Deploying Windows 8 and MDT 2012.  What can attendees expect to hear about each technology?  For those that couldn’t attend TechEd 2012 or MMS 2012, can TechMentor attendees expect the same level of technical knowledge shared in your sessions?

Michael: At TechEd and MMS, we talked about MDT 2012.  At TechEd, we started talking about how we expected Windows 8 to affect deployment.  Now, we’re talking about a new MDT 2012 Update 1 release, which focuses on Windows 8 and System Center 2012 SP1 functionality, and getting much more into the specifics of what you can expect to see when deploying Windows 8.  So if anything, we’ll be going even deeper for these sessions.


Me: What different kind of content can attendees expect in the TechMentor sessions?

Michael: The latest.  The sessions at MMS and TechReady were updated for the latest software releases and presented internally to educate our employees in the field, and now we’ll be presenting that same content at TechMentor.

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