While it might have seemed that Microsoft was staying pretty quiet about its Windows 8 launch up until now, it looks like they're finally making some noise about next week's release.
The first Windows 8 ad was released today, which encourages users to "Work Hard, Play Hard." You can watch it here:
The ad showcases many of the features we've seen in previews leading up to the Windows 8 launch, like the ability to switch to a classic desktop look when you don't want to use the new tiled interface, and cloud storage (known as SkyDrive) that lets you transfer photos and documents between devices. It's likely that Microsoft is hoping that by packaging it all in a 56-second ad, it will help get people excited about all those bits and pieces coming together as a whole.
Microsoft's ad is just the start of how the company is hoping to drum up interest in the Windows 8 launch, coming October 26. Today also marks the launch of Microsoft's new Xbox Music service, which will be available for free on Windows 8 tablets, The Canadian Press reports.
There's going to be two versions of Xbox Music: the free version lets users pick the songs they'll be listening to and stream them, with an audio ad interspersed every 15 minutes, or the "premium" service, which will cost $10 but allows subscribers to download their selected songs and play them offline later on.
If you aren't running a Windows 8 tablet or a Windows 8 PC (which will only have access to the free version), you also have the option of using Xbox Music on the Xbox 360. Despite sharing a name, though, you'll have to pay the $10 to have access to Xbox Music on the gaming console — and it's only available to Xbox Gold subscribers, who already pay $60 annually for the premium gaming service.
The Verge reports that if you're hoping to run Xbox Music on Windows 7 or Windows Phone 7, you're out of luck: clearly, Microsoft is hoping that their streaming service will be one of several incentives to upgrade to the new operating system.
And Microsoft has given quite a few reasons for people to consider making the upgrade. There's the cross-device compatibility that SkyDrive provides, which will make Windows 8 tablets and tablet hybrids like Microsoft's own Surface (also launching on October 26), the Toshiba U920T Ultrabook Convertible or the Acer Iconia W510 work seamlessly with Windows 8 PCs. The new OS is reported to have faster boot speed, an improved version of Windows Defender and the Refresh/Reset ability which will come in handy if your system gets unfortunately corrupted or infected with malware, along with a sleek new look and a host of other features. If those features still have you on the fence about dropping the money for the upgrade, Microsoft hopes to have you covered there, too: if you've bought a new Windows 7 PC since June, upgrading to Windows 8 will only cost you $14.99. There will also be a free trial available, or the full OS available for purchase for $39.99 (all U.S. pricing).
Even with the low price point and new features, there are plenty of Windows users who might want to think twice before making the switch. To see if you're a good candidate for Windows 8, I suggest checking out PC World's article on figuring out if all your gear is Windows 8 compatible, and CNET's video editorial on five reasons why you might not want to upgrade.
Either way, you've got a little over a week to decide if switching to Windows 8 is right for you. The new operating system launches October 26.