As you all know, I was on the ground in New York City yesterday to cover Microsoft's October Windows 10 Event. As both a Microsoft reporter and enthusiast, the moment marked a first for me. After four years of journalism school and many years watching these Microsoft press events from my own computer, I finally had the chance to attend a Microsoft press event in person, and in my home city. What follows is a personal look at what it was like for me to attend this event.
The journey to the event:
As my Bio says, I live in Queens, New York, so a trip out to Spring Studios in lower Manhattan (the venue for this event) meant a 45-minute ride on the A train. Usual shifts here for my duties at WinBeta (OnMSFT) start at 9AM, but the day of the event I woke up at 6 AM ET, and left my home at 7 so I could arrive ahead of time and scout the area near the venue. If you followed me on Twitter, or on my OnSMFT Instagram, you should be familiar with what I experienced upon my arrival.
The wait to get into the event:
If I learned one thing from college, it's that you should always show up to class early. And, if I learned one thing from being a New Yorker, it's that the trains always could have delays. That being in my mind. I arrived at Spring Studios well ahead of time around 7:45 ET. The line to enter the event was empty, and I was the only one there. After a bit of walking about to take some b-roll shots, someone else finally joined the line. Now that I was not alone, I joined in and became the second person in line.
It was a cold morning in New York, so I chatted with those around me and waited things out until 9:15 when Microsoft finally let us all into the venue. In the lead up to the moment, The Microsoft events team showed up and signed us in (using Surface devices!) and we received our press credentials.
The morning keynote:
After walking in, we were guided up elevators, and we entered the event hall. The first thing I did was search for the right spot, and for a hardwired ethernet connection so I can touch base with my colleagues. I got myself set up in the middle of the room on a comfy table, and plugged in my laptop, (and also collected the cute goodie bag Microsoft left us. ) The Keynote started promptly at 10, and I quickly got to work snapping pics.
I must say, as a Microsoft reporter going to a Press event for the first time, I was very happy to see the folks which I am constantly writing about on stage. It came as a big change over my familiar way of seeing news and quotes as a text on, screen, or a Microsoft blog post. Be it Panos Panay, or even Satya Nadella himself, I was amazed to see these folks which I am constantly writing about right before my very eyes. It was also refreshing to see and meet a few fellow Microsoft reporters who I have come to become familiar with.
— Arif Bacchus (@abacjourn) October 26, 2016
Of course, what is a post about the Microsoft event without writing about the devices unveiled? After putting much thought into my initial what to expect post, I knew something big was planned for this event. The moment Panos Panay stepped on stage with two Microsoft Studio devices by his side, my hairs stood up and I burst into applause, as I knew this was the start of the next chapter in Microsoft history. Of course, I had to stay focused and remember that I was here as a reporter, and not a fanboy. (Fanboyism came later when I got to see the devices!)
The afternoon showcase:
After the keynote ended, the press was invited to a lower level floor for a Microsoft device showcase. The newly announced devices, and everything Microsoft has recently released, from Surface Hub, Surface Pro 4, Xbox One S, were on display for us to try out for ourselves. As both Microsoft enthusiast and reporter, I must say I felt as if I were in a dreamland.
Hands on with what's new:
After checking out a map of the floor, I went around and tried out the various products. I started with my own (amateur) hands on of the Surface Studio, and then moved onto doing my duties as a reporter by asking Microsoft representatives for demos of both the Surface Studio, and the Surface Dial. You can see what it was like for me by checking out the videos below.
Personally, I must remark that I've never quite seen a device like the Surface Studio. The display on the device is downright beautiful, and I was sure to try out some gameplay of Forza Horizon 3 on the device when I was granted the chance. Everything was downright flawless, and it was amazing to see that I could move the device down to a low angle (thanks to the hinge) to play the game. It was also amazing to see Microsoft show off the possibilities of this device, from using it for creative purposes, and even marking up notes on it like the device was a canvas and piece of paper.
The same can be said for the Surface Dial. To be honest, I've never really seen an accessory such as this before. However, as explained by Microsoft, it was interesting to see that it can be used in multiple ways, be it controlling the volume on your PC, or creatively in design studio applications. Again, my thoughts were, "this is another way in which Microsoft will innovate"
My hands on experience with Paint 3D was also amazing, and given that I own a much underpowered Surface 3, using a Surface Pen to create 3D objects on the brilliant display of the Surface Pro 4 was truly awesome. Since I am a writer, and not an artist, and I rather asked the Microsoft representative to craft up a creation for me.
All in all, I am extremely grateful for this opportunity to attend a Microsoft Press event. I've been a Microsoft fan for quite the longest while, and to have a job (better yet get a chance to play with Microsoft devices) where I can write about the things I care about is a dream come true.