Microsoft has announced that the MIX Conference that was due to take place in Las Vegas in April 2012 is not going to happen. Instead it will be "merged" with another developer event later in the year.
MIX is, or rather was, Microsoft's conference for web developers. It is where they talked about and promoted ASP.NET and Silverlight, so the fact that it is no more is significant as part of a general trend towards standards. As there is nothing Microsoft-specific about web development in the Microsoft environment then why have a conference for it?
The bottom line is - cancel MIX.
Perhaps cancelled is too strong a term and Microsoft clearly prefers to describe what is happening as a merger. What is MIX merging with? That is a very good question and Microsoft currently doesn't seem to know the answer.
Everyone's guess is that sometime in 2012 there will be a conference that focuses on Windows8 WInRT/Metro development and this fits in with the idea that it be combined with the "next major developer conference, which we will host sometime in the coming year."
In a blog post announcing the fact that there would be no MIX this year Tim O'Brian wrote:
Firstly, the notion that the “web community” is somehow separate and distinct from the community of developers we care about no longer makes any sense...
Secondly, we got a lot of feedback. Developers were confused, and asking us about which event to go to.
It was also suggested that preparing for such conferences took software engineers away from their main work and so was a drag on product development. Of course it could be that there just aren't that many top notch developers working on Silverlight, ASP.NET, IIS and IE at the moment and so putting a conference together on such topics would mean finding some people to talk about technologies that Microsoft isn't greatly interested in any more.
Microsoft seems entirely focused on Windows 8, which is probably a good thing but in turn this means that Microsoft is over focused on tablet development, which is not such a good thing. There is a wider world out there and even after WinRT/Metro joins the tablet world for real, there will still be the web and even ... yes it's true .. the desktop.
Ditching MIX is probably sensible, but it is another indication that the Microsoft programming world is in a state of contraction.
However, the argument that in a standards-based world you don't need a specifically Microsoft event doesn't seem to work when you move over to view the new darling of the Microsoft universe C++, which has its own new standards based conference - see C++ Going Native Conference - The Details.