Computer giant Microsoft Corp. will be at the HIMSS convention this year. It just won't be in it.
There won't be a Microsoft booth among the 625 exhibiting vendors on a 460,000-square-foot expanse -- or 10 football fields -- rented out at the Orange County Convention Center. But Microsoft definitely will be in the building, renting adjacent halls big enough to accommodate 7,000 people.
John Page, HIMSS executive director, says healthcare marketers at the Redmond, Wash.-based software corporation "felt the options on the floor were not what they needed for what their goals were."
John Carpenter, Microsoft healthcare marketing manager, says because the corporation's products aren't specific to healthcare, it doesn't gain much by operating a booth among hundreds of others trying to spur sales of computerization designed for improving healthcare delivery.
The official break with HIMSS organizers comes only three years after the association rolled out the red carpet for Microsoft's entry into healthcare. That's when Chairman Bill Gates delivered the opening keynote pitch in a demonstration of Microsoft products to 10,000 attendees in San Antonio.
This year, the corporation will put on a one-night show in which computer hardware manufacturers will run software applications from healthcare software vendors already on the HIMSS floor.
The aim is to demonstrate the ability to run complex applications for both large and small organizations using inexpensive, off-the-shelf computers and Microsoft's Windows NT operating system instead of pricey mainframes and more expensive Unix operating systems, Carpenter says.
The hardware and software partners will make tickets available at their booths for the Monday night event, which will include pizza, cocktails and a grand finale: a free presentation by comedian Bill Cosby.
Carpenter says ticket-holders won't have to sit through all the demos as the price of waiting for Cosby to go on stage. But he adds that doors will close when the 7,000-attendee mark is reached -- for fire-code reasons -- and there is no firmly scheduled time for Cosby's stand-up to begin.
So convention-goers trying to time it so they skip the demos will be taking a risk.
HIMSS organizers have scheduled a night at Downtown Pleasure Island during the same time, charging $30 per person for the exclusive run of the Disney night spot. Disney World attractions close to the public after the 6: 30 p.m. fireworks display during winter months, so HIMSS attendees will be rubbing elbows only with one another, Page says.
The association will rent out Epcot Center after hours on Tuesday and the MGM Studios on Wednesday for the same admission fee.
Because Disney World closes at the same time the HIMSS schedule finishes each day, Page says these extracurricular activities are partly an attempt to reduce "playing hookey" from the daytime events.