Though the show has branched off to cover a number of pressing IT topics, events related its eponymous theme -- system interoperability -- will be center stage at this year's show. And as dry as those words might sound on paper, there will be no shortage of controversy as vendors and users square off to define what interoperability means, who's responsible for it, and why it's still more theory than practice in today's IT world.
Still think it's strictly back room stuff? The topic's commercial and social ramifications become more apparent when viewed through the lens of specific examples. Like, say Microsoft vs. Linux.
If Microsoft senior VP Bob Muglia draws a packed house at his keynote speech Wednesday at 8:30 a.m., he'll be able to thank in part his company's decision this week to reveal that it believes the Linux kernel violates 42 Microsoft patents and that other open source programs such as Open Office infringe on hundreds more.
As the man overseeing the roll out of key Microsoft technologies like Windows Server Longhorn, scheduled for release later this year, Muglia will have to stare down attendees anxious to know how the company plans to go forward with work on Windows and Linux interoperability while at the same time intimating that it may embroil the Linux community in legal challenges.