Microsoft kicks off Windows 8 campaign at NY event

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NEW YORK (AP) - Microsoft kicked off a campaign for its newest operating system, Windows 8, and its Surface tablet computer at a five-hour event at New York’s Pier 57. Designed to run on both PCs and tablet computers, Windows 8 heralds the biggest change to the industry’s dominant operating system in at least 17 years.

Windows 8 attempts to bridge the gap between personal computers and fast-growing tablets with its touch-enabled interface. The launch event came amid a slew of other tablet offerings ahead of the holidays. Apple Inc. unveiled its iPad Mini with a 7.9-inch screen on Tuesday. Amazon.com Inc. and Barnes & Noble Inc., makers of the 7-inch Kindle Fire and Nook Tablet, are coming out with larger versions next month.

Surface is Microsoft’s first venture into making computer devices. The device goes on sale Friday, as will computers and other tablets running Windows 8. Wedge Partners analyst Kirk Adams expects Microsoft to trail its rivals in fourth-quarter tablet sales.

One factor that might dampen enthusiasm for the Surface is its price _ $599 with its touch keyboard cover _ and its availability for purchase only from a limited number of Microsoft stores and online, Adams said. He said consumers may be reluctant to buy the device until they can try it in person.

Meanwhile, most analysts believe companies and governments will hold off on upgrading to Windows 8 for at least another year. About half of business users still haven’t upgraded to Windows 7 from Windows XP, which came out in 2001.

XP also marked the last time Microsoft had a huge launch campaign for Windows. Microsoft also came to New York then, holding an event at a Times Square hotel. Releases of Windows Vista and 7 since then were more subdued.

Here’s a running account of the Windows 8 event, presented in reverse chronological order. All times are EDT.

Presenters include Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer; Windows chief Steven Sinofsky; Julie Larson-Green, the executive in charge of Windows Program Management; Michael Angiulo, who heads the Windows Client and Ecosystem Team; and Panos Panay, general manager of the Surface team.

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2:15 p.m.

What is Surface, a laptop or a tablet?

“It’s not just a tablet, but it’s actually the best tablet I’ve ever used,” Sinofsky said. “It’s not just a laptop, but it’s the best laptop I’ve ever used.”

Sinofsky said the Surface has twice the storage memory as competitors for the same price _ though he didn’t mention that about half of it gets taken up by the operating system and pre-loaded software.

The Surface event wrapped after about 40 minutes.

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