In September 2011, Microsoft held its first BUILD developer conference in Anaheim, California. Not only did the company use the event to launch the first public version of Windows 8, it also gave away the first Windows 8 tablets, made by Samsung, to the event's attendees.
Today, on the eve of registration for BUILD 2013, Microsoft's Raymond Chen posted a new entry on his personal blog that reveals some of the secrets behind getting that first Samsung Windows 8 tablet ready for BUILD 2011. Chen reveals that the internal name for those tablets was Nike and that Microsoft had its advance crew spend a week getting all those thousands of tablets ready to go for BUILD 2011.
Originally, the tablets were labeled as "preview" devices, but apparently Samsung, at the last minute, objected to that particular term. In their minds, calling something a "preview" meant that it could turn into an actual retail product. Samsung asked that the tablets be labeled as "prototypes" instead. Chen stated:
This meant that mere days before the conference opened, a rush print job of 5000 stickers had to be shipped down to the convention center in order to cover the word preview with the word prototype. A new step was added to the assembly line: place sticker over offending word.
The actual devices were very expensive. Chen said the price to make each tablet "was in the high $2000s per unit, and that doesn't count all the sunk costs." The price a developer had to pay for registering at BUILD 2011 was $2,095, but the price did not come close to paying for each Windows 8 prototype unit, according to Chen.
The keynote address at BUILD 2011 in Anaheim showed off the Windows 8 prototypes, but there were technical issues with the tablets during the address that did not happen when Microsoft held its rehearsals in Redmond, Washington. Chen said part of the reason was that the devices during BUILD 2011 "were being run at full brightness all the time (so they show up better on camera), and they were driving giant video displays, and they were sitting under hot stage lights for hours on end."