User Interfaces, Cloud Computing, and Ray Ozzie—A Guide to the Season’s Tech Events

It is high season for tech gatherings in Seattle. The next couple of weeks will feature a dizzying array of events chock-full of compelling computing content, not to mention top-tier networking. How is a busy entrepreneur, researcher, or investor to choose which ones to attend? Let Xconomy be your guide…

—This Wednesday, April 22 (yes, tomorrow), the Washington Technology Industry Association is putting on a feast for all of you interested in the future of human-computer interfaces. Bill Bryant of Draper Fisher Jurvetson is moderating an all-star panel of interface experts: Cliff Kushler of Tegic and Swype (text-input software for mobile devices); James Landay from the University of Washington’s computer science and engineering department (activity sensing, user behaviors); Bert Keely of Microsoft (Windows Pen & Touch technologies); and Jeff Pobst of Hidden Path (gaming interfaces).

Bryant says, “The kind of topics we’ll be discussing are at the heart of what user-centered computing will look like in the coming years and decades.” He points out that when you think about everything from the Wii to Windows 7 to Web browsers (and throw in the iPhone and GPS devices for good measure), “the entire history of computing can be summarized as ‘advances in user interfaces.'” Now there’s food for thought.

—How far along is Windows Azure? Microsoft’s cloud computing service was announced last fall, and is seen as a competitor to Amazon Web Services, Google’s App Engine, and other offerings like VMware’s “virtual data center” operating system. But who is actually using it yet, how does it work, and what is Microsoft’s cloud strategy? On April 30, Microsoft is hosting an event organized by the WTIA where it will answer those questions, and more. Doug Hauger, Microsoft’s general manager of cloud infrastructure services, will give an overview of Azure and Microsoft’s view of cloud computing software and services.

A bonus speaker will be Ian Knox, director of product management at Skytap, a Seattle-based cloud computing and virtual lab startup. Knox will talk about using cloud computing for Windows applications and lowering IT lab costs, among other things. All in all, it’s essential stuff for anyone interested in shaping the future of the cloud.

—On May 1, the Technology Alliance is hosting its annual State of Technology luncheon. This year’s theme is “framing the future.” The guest of honor is Ray Ozzie, Microsoft’s chief software architect, who will have a keynote conversation with the UW’s Ed Lazowska. (We’ll see if he puts Ozzie on the spot about Windows Azure or Microsoft Live Labs.) Throw in an address by Gov. Chris Gregoire, a benchmarking presentation by Technology Alliance board chair Jeremy Jaech (of Verdiem), and recognition of the Alliance of Angels’ 2009 company of the year, and you have the technology event of the season, not to be missed.

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