The invitations to the ball have arrived. October 25 is going to be a busy one for Microsoft watchers, fans, and foes.

Drip, drip, drip.

The Redmondians are continuing to torture us Microsoft watchers with a slow flow of information about its bet-its-business launch.

We already knew Microsoft planned to launch Windows 8 and its ARM-based Surface RT devices in New York City on October 25, thanks to a save-the-date invitation we got a while back. We found out this week that Microsoft will be opening 30-plus holiday pop-up stores in the U.S. and Canada on October 26.

As of October 4, we now know that the launch is going to be a lengthy affair -- from 10 am to 3 pm ET.

Here's what I just got in my inbox:

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Invitations to Windows 8 launch: 21 days and counting | ZDNet