Friday, October 26 marked the much-anticipated launch of Windows 8 and I spent a good deal of Thursday night, October 25th at the launch ceremony, and Friday hanging out in and around the brand new Microsoft store located in the heart of Times Square at 45th and 7th Avenue.  The General Availability of Windows 8 also marked the date that Microsoft was launching our first ever Microsoft-branded computer, the Surface.  I got to play with the Microsoft Surface a bit, take in a demo from a Microsoft store employee, and finally put my hands on one of these devices for the first time, but more on Surface later, let’s start with the Windows 8 Launch.

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Microsoft executed a launch of Windows 8 on a scale that had never been done before where launch activities could be felt in 231 countries around the globe.  Broad scale advertising was taking place in 42 different countries (up from 7 with Windows 7) and including running launch events across the globe in 19 different countries, working around the world from Singapore and building up to the New York event which was the epicenter of the Windows 8 launch.  Times Square was taken over on a massive scale with dozens of Windows 8 “device bars” lining the square, 39 of the gigantic screens being lit up with Windows 8 (as you can see from the pictures in this post), and of course the opening of the Microsoft Store.

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Many of the key Microsoft executives including Steven Sinofsky and Kevin Turner our COO, were on hand in New York to kick off the event and there were a number of invite-only and VIP-style events I was able to send some of my influencers to.  The ribbon cutting ceremony was held directly in front of the store and was hosted by the Melina (Manager of the Microsoft Store in Times Square), Panos Panay (GM of Microsoft Surface), and Kevin Turner our COO.

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A short minute and a half video of the ribbon cutting ceremony that I took can be found here.  It shows the ribbon cutting itself and the excitement inside and outside of the store as it opens for the first time.

The actual opening of the store took place immediately after the ribbon cutting ceremony and there was an immediate swarm of folks trying to get in.

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Only Press with credentials and folks who had waited in line and gotten wristbands were able to get into the store.  The line to get a wristband was beyond massive and lasted for hours!

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When I returned to back to Times Square Friday morning, the line to get into the Microsoft store was still there:

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The store was packed with people and no shortage of enthusiasm (just ask them how long the battery lasts on the Microsoft Surface and you’re likely to see what I mean!)

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Once I got into the store, I finally got my hands on the Microsoft Surface.  It’s a fantastic device with so many uses, its really hard to quantify them all.  My first impression is that at long last, a portable device exists that is fun, full featured, and I can get actual real work done when I need to. 

I’ll be doing a more comprehensive blog post on the Microsoft Surface very soon, but in the meantime, I’ll leave you with one of the Microsoft Surface ads from YouTube. 

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The launch of Windows 8 in Times Square was indeed a truly memorable experience!

Enjoy!