Microsoft's "launch" of Windows 10 won't happen on a single date. Instead, you'll be lucky if it doesn't take up the entire fall.
At a press event during its Build conference in San Francisco, Joe Belfiore, the corporate vice president of the Operating Systems Group at Microsoft, said you should expect Microsoft to launch Windows 10 in several staggered events throughout the fall, each geared toward different devices. "The way to think about it will be a launch wave that starts in the summer with PCs, and fills out over time as more devices come online," Belfiore said.
Microsoft and Belfiore haven't confirmed a date for any of these events, though Belfiore said that Microsoft is still on track for this summer. (Lisa Su, AMD's chief executive, is on record naming "late July" as the launch date. Belfiore said that eventually Microsoft will announce it "from the horse's mouth.")
Why this matters: A schedule of staggered launches is consistent with the ongoing improvements that Microsoft has planned for Windows 10. Microsoft can also use the serial rollout to keep its new operating system in front of your eyes and on the tip of your tongue. The company may have not publicly decided on a pop song to serve as a backdrop for its launch, but this time around it might be less "Start Me Up" and more "Not Fade Away."
Here we go, and go, and go
According to Belfiore, the launch of Windows 10 for the PC will come first because it's the biggest part of the Windows 10 ecosystem. "That's our highest volume device, it's farthest along with launch, and with [the] Insider feedback." Belfiore also promised "some set of launch activities" around this major rollout.
Belfiore also suggested Microsoft would create events to encourage upgrading. "Hopefully we'll have some fanfare around the end user and the free update" for Windows 7 and Windows 8 PCs, he said. Certainly, if the company wants to hit 1 billion Windows 10 devices within three years, its existing user base would be a good place to start.
"You should expect [the] phone, HoloLens, Xbox, and Surface Hub [launches] will be staggered," Belfiore explained, because of the complexity of coordinating hardware and software launches. The phone launches, for example, will require working with carriers around the world, Belfiore said, and Microsoft still doesn't know those dates. HoloLens and the Surface Hub require new hardware, and those dates will be different as well.