Photo tour: We seek Surface discounts at Microsoft's Worldwide Partner Conference

Microsoft Worldwide Partner Conference Surface discount promotion

Microsoft’s Worldwide Partner Conference 2013 (abbreviated as WPC, not to be confused with Windows Phone Central) is currently going on at the spacious George R. Brown Convention Center in Houston, TX. The yearly event focuses on Microsoft’s IT and Enterprise business, allowing companies designated as Microsoft Partners to come together for learning, networking, and much more.

A few weeks back, we reported that Microsoft would be making its Surface Pro and RT tablets available to WPC 2013 attendees at drastically discounted prices. Well, never let it be said that we don’t follow through on our news stories. Your friendly neighborhood Games Editor stopped by the first two days of the event and put the discount offer to the test. Find out if I succeeded and see lots of photographs from the show after the break!

The quest for Surface

Microsoft WPC 2013 Windows Phone Built for Business sign
This giant sign greeted visitors as they reached the second floor.

A quick recap of the Surface discount offer: qualifying attendees (including press, thankfully) are eligible to purchase one Surface Pro with 128 GB of storage for $399 (original price: $999) and one Surface RT with 64 GB for $99 (original price: 599) during the event. That’s a massive discount, and as you can imagine, just about all 20,000+ attendees have taken advantage of it or are planning to do so.

In order to buy a Surface or two on the cheap, show-goers have to line up on the second floor of the convention center and wait to be escorted down to the first floor by Microsoft employees. Considering that thousands of people qualify for the Surface offer, the lines I saw stretched incredibly far.

Microsoft WPC 2013 Surface discount line

On Monday I stepped into the queue as soon as it opened at noon, skipping lunch in order to hopefully expedite the purchasing process. I didn’t make it downstairs until 3 PM! I played NBA Jam and watched King of the Hill on my phone to pass the time in line. I understand that Microsoft established a separate press line on Tuesday in order to free up journalists for stories and such, but that didn’t help this poor typewriter jockey.

Microsoft WPC 2013 Surface Store

Upon reaching the coveted downstairs line, I finally entered the Microsoft Store specifically set up for the event. The Store has lounge areas set up in which visitors can play with Surface tablets (as shown at top), Windows 8 notebooks, and Windows Phones at their leisure. Most importantly, the sales counters are manned by full-time Microsoft Store employees. The cashier who helped me out is actually a dedicated reader of our site!

Microsoft WPC 2013 Surface discount

The final result: I was able to purchase a Surface Pro and RT tablet for myself, which I’ll use for my Windows 8 games coverage. And I’ve already got some Surface accessory reviews lined up for this week and next!

Quick tour of WPC 2013

Microsoft WPC 2013 Windows Phone booth

Attendees could sample every current Windows Phone 8 device at the Windows Phone booth.

Microsoft WPC 2013 Acer booth

Acer's booth showed off their new Iconia W3 8-inch Windows 8 tablet.

Microsoft WPC 2013 Lync dancers

These dancers promoted Microsoft's Enterprise-focused Lync instant messaging software.

Microsoft WPC 2013 Microsoft Missile Defense Xbox 360

Evan Brossard and Zachary Nawar (programming students at Kentwood High School in Covington, WA) created this Microsoft trivia game based on the classic arcade game Missile Command using XNA and C#.

Microsoft WPC 2013 Office booth cowgirls

All of the people working at the Office booth wore cowboy hats, as we Texans do during our every waking hour and even while we sleep.

Microsoft WPC 2013 UK lounge

A wide variety of nations were represented by these regional lounges.

Microsoft WPC 2013 Windows booth

The Windows 8 booth hosted a wide array of tablets, notebooks, and PCs.

Microsoft WPC 2013 WPC Connect Purple

Microsoft Partners could organize meetings in the vast WPC Connect Purple area.

Microsoft WPC 2013 sidewalk chalk

We may not all be Microsoft Partners, but we all love Microsoft.


Reader comments

Photo tour: We seek Surface discounts at Microsoft's Worldwide Partner Conference


I attended TechEd in New Orleans and it looks like MS tried to improve upon that (Surface purchasing) experience although we had 10,000+ in attendance so there's only so much they could have done. At one point the line was over 6hrs long.
Congrats on your "short" wait ;)
My wait was about three minutes cuz i happened to be walking by when they opened the store 90 minutes early on the first day of the conference (Sunday). Everyday after that they had long lines wrapping around the gamer hall, MS book store and down the outside exhibition hallway.

Same here... Got mine on Sunday but still waited about 2 hours.
And Paul... here's a hint... 
   On the last day of the conference... just... hang around the Microsoft Store at closing time.  I'm not saying much else.

You are correct, we did get one free. But I'm never satisfied with the minimal specs so I had to buy the next model up. Not to mention I wanted mine the day it came out and the free one didn't arrive until a couple days before Christmas. It made a great Christmas gift foe my kids.

However, as a rule, we don't get discounts on hardware. Software, yes, hardware, no. :)

My bad, I should have clarified.

Ah ok, fair enough.
Yeah I would be the same. As it is, I had to import my pro cos I didn't want to wait months for it to come to AUS. So impatient.. haha

So you're saying the Microsoft Store on campus doesn't carry hardware anymore? Back in the days as vendor with few visits to campus in Redmond it looked like this. But admittedly this was before the mobile craze...

It carries *some* hardware, but more along the lines of accessories (keyboards, mice, etc.) I haven't seen any XBox or other hardware devices except for the Kinect.

When I lived in Redmond, there was a store on the main campus where you could buy all their stuff at cost. I got windows OS and office for like $50... But that was many years ago... Don't they still do that? Oh and it was for employees only.

Built for business? Really? My business uses VPN. My business also requires me to configure simple routers on-site that don't always use DHCP.
I must not be part of the intended target audience for Windows Phone, but that's pretty odd considering I'm a .NET developer and systems administrator of a microsoft server cluster.