Attendance at Convergence, the annual Microsoft Dynamics user conference, fell well short of original expectations as the economy took a toll on attendance by users, but resellers came to the show in numbers.

The Microsoft exhibitor prospectus for the show had anticipated about 10,000 attendees, including Microsoft staff, Dynamics users and resellers. But Kirill Tatarinov, head of MBS, said that about 7,000 people were expected to attend the show, which runs throughout the week at New Orleans’ Morial Convention Center. Tatarinov said there were 600 prospects at the conference who had come by invitation. Convergence has been an important tool for closing business deals.

However, many resellers felt that attendance hadn't even reached that level and speculated the total was in the 4,000 to 5,000 range and said it had been extremely difficult for them to get their customers to attend. It is the resellers who play a major role in persuading Dynamics customers to come to Convergence. Some said Microsoft employees had told them that the company had hoped to reach 7,000 registrants by Tuesday, the first full day of events for users.

But as the beginning of the show neared, it also appeared that many resellers made last-minute decisions to participate. Tatarinov said 2,000 resellers were in attendance. Part of the appeal was a day for value-added resellers to hear from Microsoft executives. That event, held Monday, was closed to the press. Many dealers have turned to Convergence as their show of choice, sending a larger staff to the user show than they do to the annual Worldwide Partner Conference, which will be held in New Orleans in July.

Microsoft’s own announced decision to cut corporate travel by 20 percent also affected turnout. In recent years, Microsoft has sent more than 2,000 staff members annually. However, the exhibitor prospects had anticipated that staff would comprise about 13 percent of the expected 10,000, roughly 1,300 employees.

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