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
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.
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.
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!
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
Attendees could sample every current Windows Phone 8 device at the Windows Phone booth.
Acer's booth showed off their new Iconia W3 8-inch Windows 8 tablet.
These dancers promoted Microsoft's Enterprise-focused Lync instant messaging software.
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#.
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.
A wide variety of nations were represented by these regional lounges.
The Windows 8 booth hosted a wide array of tablets, notebooks, and PCs.
Microsoft Partners could organize meetings in the vast WPC Connect Purple area.
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