Microsoft has quietly brought back its popular WinHEC trade show; together with PDC and TechED, it formed part of a triumvirate of shows that were an essential cog in maintaining its relationship with its various partners in the Windows ecosystem.
This time around, WinHEC will swap the big-and-brash-format of its heyday for something smaller. It is swapping its Conference moniker for Community while keeping the rest of the definition, "Windows Hardware Engineering", intact.
The first of these new WinHECs will take place in Shenzhen, China over two days from March 18 2015. Attendees will be able to learn the latest about Microsoft products as well as hands-on engineering training to develop Windows hardware products.
The choice of Shenzhen is not fortuitous: Microsoft wanted the new WInHEC to be "local to the hardware ecosystem hubs" and China and generally South East Asia is where the bulk of tech manufacturing takes place.
Matt Perry, Microsoft's honcho in charge of its Silicon, Peripheral, Component and IHV Enablement team, highlighted it a blog post, adding: "The Shenzhen ecosystem consists of a diverse community of hardware companies covering electrical design, software engineering, integration, manufacturing, and all other aspects of the computing-device supply chain."
It also responds to a gradual landscape change: Samsung followed Toshiba and will no longer be selling its consumer laptops in some mature markets, Google's Chromebooks are making Microsoft nervous at the lower end of the market whereas brands such as Sony are exiting the market altogether.