2012-08-31: Pax before Pax: The epic pre-parties from Borderlands 2 and Microsoft

Last year was my first at Penny Arcade's Seattle gaming convention. As such, I felt that though I thoroughly enjoyed wandering the massive halls of the exhibition hall, there were some deeper elements of PAX I'd missed out on. These elements were, it turns out, the parties.

Our first 7:00 PM stop was an event co-hosted by Gearbox Software, 2K Games, Amazon, and Joystiq touting playable Borderlands 2 and an open bar. While the modestly sized Pink Ultralounge was a nice venue, the crowd in excess of 500 people made mingling virtually impossible. We made our leave by eight, and headed to our next event: Microsoft's invite-only "Atari Arcade" party.

This event was located at Still Liquor, a tiny bar buried on a Seattle side street. Immediately my cohorts and I identified this as a more suitable venue, and before long we had engaged in an interesting conversation with a Microsoft employee. This guy knew his stuff, and quickly identified with our tech-savvyness, demonstrating the finer points of Microsoft's new Surface tablet running Windows 8 (the x86 version). Needless to say, we were all quite impressed with the technology.

Typically, Windows has never been associated with the liquid smooth performance of Mac OS X or Linux, however this tablet (A Core i5 Samsung unit with 4gb of ram) was phenomenal. It's clear, expansive multi-touch screen responded instantly to commands, and even resource heavy tasks like portrait to landscape rotations were executed flawlessly. He also touched on several other interesting points regarding upcoming Microsoft products, like the next Xbox (he didn't confirm '720', but he certainly didn't deny it) and an incredible USB bootable Windows 8 build. This, remarkable mostly because of it's performance on his 5-7 year old Centrino-based Lenovo notebook, booted in mere seconds via USB 2.0 and performed like it had launched off an SSD.

It's currently 9:00 am on PAX's first day, Friday the 31st. We can't wait to get into the exhibition hall and check out what's in store for us in the gaming world. Expect to hear more later, stay tuned.

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