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New hardware will come out the gates packing Windows 10, festivities will abound, and reservations will be filled on Microsoft's big day

We're just over a week away from the big launch of Microsoft Corp. (MSFT) Windows 10, perhaps the most pivotal and most anticipated software release in the company's recent history.  From its role in repairing Windows 8/8.1's many a faux pas on the traditional PC side, to its mobile-friendly universal apps paradigm, Windows 10 is a game changer in many ways.  And it's free.

I. Cute Kids, Info, Globalism -- Inside the Windows 10 Ad Push

The first parts of Microsoft's marketing blitz to promote Windows 7, 8, and 8.1 users to upgrade kicked off yesterday in the U.S.  The first step is an ad campaign.  Microsoft describes:

Beginning July 20th in the US and July 29th globally, the first wave of TV and digital ads will highlight how Windows 10 delivers a more human way to do – brought to life with features like Windows Hello and Microsoft Edge. We can’t wait to share our first new ad next week.

(Hello is Microsoft's multi-biometric login/security layer, while Edge is its new high-performance consumer browser.)

Windows 10 cross platform
A couple key phrases you'll possibly see kicked around in the ad push are that Windows 10 "delivers a more human way to do" (marketing speak translation: Windows 10 is more user friendly than Windows 8, yet more flexible as well) and that Edge is the "browser for doing" (marketing speak translation: this one isn't slow like Internet Explorer and features modern niceties previously exclusive to third party competitors, such as extensions).

Here's some example of these new video commercials, posted to Google Inc.'s (GOOG) ubiquitous video-sharing service YouTube.  This set of commercials highligh the standout features of the OS and have sort of an international/multi-cultural globalism vibe to them:



Clearly Microsoft's ad push involves a lot of cute kids.  The thinly disguised message here is obviously that even a child can use Windows 10 with ease, so you can too.





The second set of commercials is a more slideshow-like pictures and graphics sort of series listing "ten reasons to upgrade":





There's also this brief infommercial of sorts for Cortana, the voice assistant incorporated into Windows 10.  A nice touch is that the commercial feature features two of the principle managers of the Cortana project -- Susan Hendrich and Marcus Ash.  So the end result is definitely from a knowledgeable source.



As stated, the international push for these ads will come next week, around the time of the launch, but they're already airing in the U.S.  The video ad push will be accompanied by a series of more minimalist display ads that will spatter across the web.

II. Giving, Rallying the Crew

One effort will be the set of charitable efforts under the tagline "#UpgradeYourWorld"



A key pillar of the effort is a massive volunteering push courtesy of Microsoft's sea of domestic and international employees.  Neowin reports that sources at Microsoft have revealed that the company is offerings its employees in the U.S. the opportunity to apply to get a paid day off to work at a charity of their choice.  The charity blitz in Windows 10's honor is capped at 2,000 employees.  That's just a small fraction of Microsoft's roughly 60,000 U.S. employees [source], but still plenty to make a large impact on Microsoft's dime.  Moreover, according to Microsoft's blog, globally tens of thousands of Microsoft's employees will be eligible to particpate.

In a separate charitable effort its give free upgrade support and $10M USD in cash to 100 domestic and 10 global charitable entities.  It's also giving $10M USD to 10 additional global charities selected via crowdsourcing.  For a list of some of the charities it's selected already visit here.

Employees will also get to party it up on Microsoft's Redmond, Wash. campus and various other sites.  Microsoft is rallying the troops under the slogan "Bleed blue" and will be putting up special banners with messages such as 1985 (the year Windows 1.0 launched).

Brandon Leblanc

Bleed Blue
[Image Source: Brandon LeBlanc/Twitter]

The banners are already on display on Microsoft's main campus.

III. Hardware Will be Available w/ Windows 10 Preinstalled on Launch Day

The process preparing the machinery to upgrade Windows 7, 8, and 8.1 to Windows 10 began months ago via various Windows Updates, but it reached a crucial stage on June 1, when reservations opened.  Microsoft has adopted an interesting system, where it prompts Windows users on eligible operating systems to "reserve" their upgrade to Windows 10.  This seems smart as it helps Microsoft to figure out what the data demand will be on its servers and to encourage customers to embrace Windows 10 proactively.

Windows 10
[Image Source: The Verge]

On July 29th, the finished Windows 9 bits will start getting pushed to those who reserved.  Meanwhile the international ad campaign will launch and key festivities will be held across the U.S. and in select cities overseas.

Wondering about launch hardware?

Contrary to a misleading early report Bloomberg suggested that consumers wouldn't be able to get their hands on PCs with Windows 10 preinstalled on July 29.  If true this would be a somewhat shocking development.  But fortunately it turns out that it was all a big misunderstanding based on a quote by a Microsoft executive being misunderstood.  
In reality, consumers will be able to immediately pick up a variety of Windows 10 machines.  Launchday hardware with Windows 10 already inside will be available at many from brick and mortar retailers (e.g. Best Buy Comp., Inc. (BBY)), from online retailers (e.g. Amazon.com, Inc. (AMZN) and Newegg), or direct from Microsoft at one of its 110+ stores in the U.S., Canada, and Puerto Rico.

It is true that some Windows PCs for the next month or two will likely continue to come preloaded with previous versions of Windows, including Windows 7, 8, or 8.1.  That's just a minor incovenience, though, as buyers can trivially upgrade to Windows 10 for free from the comfort of their home.  Which machines will pack Windows 10?  That's a tough question to full answer at present, but it does appear some OEMs, such as Dell have been more aggressively preordering the operating system to ensure availability of systems with Windows 10 preinstalled on launchday.

Ironically, Microsoft won't commit to launch-day preinstalls of Windows 10 on its Surface computers.  It stated to Windows Central:

[W]hile you can expect to see Surface devices running Windows 10 on shelves soon, Windows 8.1 devices still provide an exceptional experience and are easily upgraded to Windows 10 for free.

Awkward, eh?
 
Windows 10

Hewlett-Packard Comp. (HPQ) stands out in that it's made an even more aggressive promise to ship preinstalled Windows 10 product before launch to give it enough lead time to get delivered to consumers by launch day.  Product VP Mike Nash describes:

Right now, a customer can buy select PCs with Windows 10 directly from HP.com and it will ship on July 28th. We are offering free next-day shipping so customers will receive the device on July 29th. Customers will start seeing HP devices running Windows 10 in-store at select retailers beginning August 2nd.

HP is introducing at least one brand new model in conjunction with the launch.  Namely it is introducing the new HP EliteBook Folio 1020 laptop (a 12-inch laptop with 1080p and 1440p screen options and 14 nm Broadwell Intel Corp. (INTC) Core M system-on-a-chip (SoC)).  Pricing on the Elitebook Folio 1020 wasn't announced, but should be available shortly.
Elitebook Folio
The limited edition variant of the HP Elitebook Folio 1020, a launch-day Windows 10 device.

Also announced was the HP Pro Tablet 608 (Intel Atom-Z8500; 8-inch, 2048x1536 pixel display; 4 GB DRAM; 128 NAND flash storage; type-c USB charging/connectivity; pen input) which will ship August priced at $479 USD.

HP Stream 608
HP Stream 608 GT

Bloomberg, to its credit, did clarify the correct story here in the end.  And it's good news for the consumers.

That said Microsoft's Windows 10 is coming in rather hot with a small Window to test the finished RTM build.  Thus it would not be suprising to see some minor hiccups, both in OEM preinstalled and in the reservation-based upgrade crowd.  In order to control the chaos Microsoft plans to roll out the upgrade in waves to those who enrolled.  All that registered should be able to get the OS by the end of the day, at the latest.

Expect Windows 10 smartphones to debut in September.  As I've suggested many times in the past, the probable venue will be the IFA 2015 consumer electronics trade show which runs Sept. 4-9 in Berlin, Germany.  Lo and behold Microsoft has announced a Sept. 4 press event in Berlin.  Three guesses what will be on the menu there.  Hint: It starts with "Microsoft" and ends with "Lumia".

IV. Party for All, But to the Insiders Go the 1337 Perks

The very first to get the finished bits of Windows 10 will be Insiders, who may technically get the finished build prior to July 29.  Microsoft reports that it saw terrific beta testing support with 5 million customers enrolling as Insiders.  To say thanks Microsoft is holding "special events" at its stores in 13 cities around the world:
  • Asia, Pacific, and the Middle East
    • Sydney, Australia
    • Tokyo, Japan
    • Singapore, Malaysia
    • Beijing, China
    • New Delhi, India
    • Dubai, UAE
  • Africa
    • Nairobi, Kenya
    • Johannesburg, South Africa
  • Europe
    • Berlin, Germany
    • Madrid, Spain
    • London, England
  • U.S.
    • New York City, New York
  • South America
    • Sao Paolo, Brazil
Microsoft is keeping tight lipped on what might be in store at these events but it did offer a general description describing a t-shirt giveaway and word of a cryptic "store offer" exclusive:

[T]he first 50 Windows Insiders to visit each Microsoft store starting on July 29 will get an exclusive Windows Insiders t-shirt (first-come first-served), and in addition, we are offering a Windows Insider Exclusive Microsoft store offer, valid in-store only July 29- August 2.  Go to the Windows Insider Hub to learn more and download the offer.
 
Windows 10 Insider

As for the events it writes about the general launch-day in-store celebrations [1][2]:

Microsoft Stores will celebrate the launch of Windows 10 in more than 110 stores in the U.S., Canada and Puerto Rico. In select Microsoft Stores, fan celebrations will feature Windows 10 pop-up demo experiences, prizes, giveaways and more. Answer Desk services and free in-store workshops will help people learn how to get the most out of Windows 10.
...
Throughout the day on the 29th, Microsoft store activities will include giveaways, refreshments and more. Starting July 29, a series of free Get to Know Windows 10 workshops will be kicking off.  Join us and get expert advice and everything you need to know about Windows 10 – click here for more details.  Select Microsoft stores will also be hosting afternoon receptions to recognize local community organizations and nonprofits that upgrade their community every day, in support of #UpgradeYourWorld.  This is just another way that Microsoft stores are dedicated to delivering outstanding choice, value and service to all of our customers.

Microsoft Store
A Microsoft Store in San Francisco, Calif. [Image Source: Jason Mick/DailyTech LLC]

...and regarding the "special events" at the select locations, it writes:

These celebrations will offer hands-on opportunities, experiential demos, entertainment and opportunities to meet the Windows team.

In a newer blog it revealed that the store at the Park Meadow center in Lone Tree, Colorado will feature a concert by One Direction, and that several other special U.S. locations will see visits from notable professional athletes from the NBA, NFL, champion women's World Cup soccer, and NHL, plus a champion boxer (Sugar Ray Leonard).  For precisely locations check out Microsoft's blog here.

 Microsoft NYC

Keep your eyes peeled for more details, but that's about all we know for now.  Looks like quite an impressive launch -- one worthy for a product that's stoked such excitement and enthusiasm among tech lovers.




"I mean, if you wanna break down someone's door, why don't you start with AT&T, for God sakes? They make your amazing phone unusable as a phone!" -- Jon Stewart on Apple and the iPhone







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