For most of the months of October through December, while I was on tour talking about Windows 8, the new Office 2013 & Office 365, and Windows Server 2012 the most common question I heard was not about any of these products… it was something like ‘So where’s your Surface? Why don’t you have a Surface? When will you have a Surface?’ It was grinding… not because I didn’t want one… I did, and badly. However I knew that if I bought myself a Surface with Windows RT in November my wife would never let me go back in February to buy myself a Surface with Windows Pro. So I waited… patiently.
Of course, as a Virtual Evangelist for Microsoft Canada there was speculation that they would give me one… but that didn’t happen. In December I watched with envy as all of my friends and colleagues got theirs – every Microsoft employee got one, but alas, I am a contractor so I didn’t.
Earlier at the beginning of summer I had promised my son that he could have one when they came out, and so in November I asked him if he wanted the RT version, or if he wanted to wait for the Pro version. Of course he opted for the RT version, and so he got one as a late middle-school graduation present. I took my wife with me to buy his device, and she was so enamoured with it that we bought two that day – hers being an early Christmas present. Still and all, I could look, but unless they needed technical support I could not touch.
And then a few weeks ago the general availability date was announced: February 9th.
I called my main contact at the Microsoft Store in Yorkdale Mall (Toronto) and confirmed that they would be going on sale on that day. I asked if he could put one aside for me, and his response was ‘yes… but I can only hold it until the end of the day on the 9th so make sure you come that day!’ I was willing to do him one better… since the shipment was obviously arriving well in advance of that day, why not simply let me come pick it up a few days early and we’ll keep it between us? ‘Not a chance… not even one minute before the 9th!’ (And of course no, they were not planning a midnight event, so I would have to wait until morning!)
Then I had an idea. ‘Friend, what if I were to come in early the morning of February 9th, buy the very first Surface sold in Canada, and record it for my blog in the store before you even open?’ He thought that was not only doable, but was a great idea. I put it in my calendar, and remembered to confirm with him on the 8th to make sure he hadn’t forgotten me… which I feel bad about because he never would!
Mother Nature decided to test Mitch…
February 8th, for those of you who were not paying attention, recorded the largest single-day snowfall in southern Ontario in nearly a decade. Everyone on every media from Television to Twitter was saying that if you didn’t have to go out… don’t. The road crews would be out in full force, but it would likely take them throughout the weekend to clear the minor arteries and possibly into next week for crescents, circles, and such (in one of which I happen to live). Knowing that I needed to drive out the following morning I bribed my teenaged son to shovel the driveway in the early evening. He did enough to make sure that I would be able to get my car out.
Of course, what are the chances that the tiny little circle, an off-shoot of a crescent off a tertiary road in Oakville, was going to be ploughed in time? Fortunately Mayor Rob Burton follows me on Twitter and knew that I was planning to head out this morning, and made sure that our little ‘Griffith Place’ was cleared. Okay, he did no such thing, but HUGE kudos to the road crews of Oakville, Ontario that cleared the street late last night!
At 6:15 on Saturday morning I headed out; I brushed 35 centimetres of heavy snow off my car and headed out, all the while listening to the reports on the radio of accidents along the way (I witnessed three of them and passed seven others on the 403 and 401). I was not to be stopped! I drove the treacherous highways ‘low and slow’ as I was taught for these conditions, and as I will teach my son next year. It took me nearly an hour to get there and park, but I did so safely.
I was surprised that I got to the store at 7:15am, and there were already people waiting in both lines (one line for people with the ‘golden ticket’ and one for people without)! I got my gear set up in the ‘theatre’ area. I set up my video camera on my tripod, only to realize that the battery was dead. No problem, I had plenty of time to go, so I plugged it in and let it charge. I set up my Surface with Windows RT (ironic that after all that waiting a colleague at Microsoft actually did get me one!) and several of the available accessories on the table where I would shoot. All I needed now was the Surface Pro…
At 8:15 Friend brought out two devices – one for me, and one for another VIP customer named Mike who already has a Surface with Windows RT, but really wanted the Pro and was glad to be getting it this morning before he heads off to Europe. Friend ran my credit card through, and once the POS system told him the sale was approved he e-mailed me my invoice and I was off to the races.
The following videos were filmed in the Microsoft Store Theatre in Yorkdale Mall, Toronto. I want to thank Alison (the store manager), Friend (who knows who he is, and Emily (who is the Community Development Specialist, and therefor in charge of the theatre area and all of the presentations and parties held there. They were filmed on February 9th, 2013 between 8:30 and 9:00 in the morning. The only edits that were done to the video were for the sake of time and flow. All opinions, mistakes, errors, and omissions are mine and mine alone, and I have made no effort to alter the video to hide them.