The launch event is tomorrow in LA and I'm not going, and find myself a little disappointed. There will be a Denver event on Mar 20 and I'm planning on going, but with kids out of school, we'll have to see how that goes with my wife.
I think it's a good thing to be able to attend a marketing event like this, and make no mistake, this is a marketing event. Conferences, I think, are split between marketing and good information, but in this case, as with many of the launches I've attended (Windows 95, Windows 2000, SQL Server 2005, Windows XP), this is put on by the marketing group.
Which means that they want your contact information and hope to try and influence you to buy more of their (in this case Microsoft's) products. Or they want you to influence your boss. That's a lot of what is happening here where the sponsors are trying to get you to view them positively and spend more, or maybe not spend less.
In return, at least in the US, you get T-shirts and other swag, free food, maybe other goodies. What's amazing is how much goodwill the swag brings. You might think you're immune, but you're not. You definitely view them a little better when getting free stuff, and as much as I wish it wasn't so, I'll admit it happens.
So why go?
This is in tomorrow's editorial, but you should go to learn a bit, network with people, get ideas, but mostly to recharge. Get out of the office, think about the technology and get more excited about the technology in a new environment. It's a cheap way to build goodwill, and if you have to, give that as the reason to your boss. If there's nothing pressing, and more often than not there's nothing that can't wait a day, get out of the office, get a shirt, meet some colleagues, and remember how much fun technology can be.