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Join CNET's Windows 8 launch coverage on Thursday (live blog)

Microsoft and CEO Steve Ballmer will formally launch the OS and maybe talk a little about the Surface tablet, too. We'll be bringing you live coverage of the event.

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Live coverage of Microsoft's Windows 8 event

After months of anticipation, preview builds, and hype, Microsoft will formally launch its next-generation operating system, Windows 8, at an event in New York on Thursday.

Windows 8 represents a wholesale change in the user experience, relying on live tiles and a more touch-friendly interface than previous iterations. It's unclear whether consumers will embrace the dramatic changes or shun the software, relying instead on Apple's OS X or the older Windows 7.

What's more clear is that Microsoft has a lot riding on the success of this operating system, with its still-dominant position in technology potentially at stake. Windows 8 shares a lot of traits with its more tablet-friendly brother, Windows RT, and the smartphone version, Windows Phone 8. Its success or failure will have a big impact on the role its design plays in gadgets to come.

Microsoft has the support of its partners and is ready with a wave of Windows 8 laptops and tablets ready to hit the market. The company will likely show off its Surface tablet a bit more at the event as well.

Check back in with us Thursday at 7:45 a.m. PT / 10:45 a.m. ET as we kick off the live blog. The event itself starts at 8:15 a.m. PT / 11:15 a.m. ET.

Editors' note: The original version of this story was posted October 24 at 9:49 a.m. PT. Note that the start time of the live blog has been changed to reflect updated information from Microsoft.