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You won't believe how much fun the Windows XP launch will be

Oh, you will

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You may have already seen the Windows XP grassy knoll TV ad, backed by Madonna's Ray of Light, but this is just the start. The OS goes on sale on Thursday 25 October, and boy do Microsoft and friends have some exciting things lined up to kick start sales.

The actual product kick-off will occur in two primary locations, New York and London, on the Thursday. They will be hosted by Bill Gates and arm-flailing CEO Steve Ballmer, respectively.

In the UK Microsoft is wheeling out XP 'Premier Partners' Intel, Dell, Compaq, Hewlett Packard, Sony, QXL, lastminute.com, Jessops, HMV, Dixons Stores Group, Virgin.com and Expedia.com to sing the company song.

Microsoft says it is spending £10 million marketing XP in the UK. Add in the marketing spend from Intel and other 'Premier Partners', the major PC manufacturers, and the figure is expected to hit £25 million. (The Reg take on these figures can be read here.)

Microsoft's MSN UK has kicked off its own "Million Dollar Digital Bonanza", where it is giving away a wide range of electronics goods, including notebooks, digital cameras, software and more.

MSN is also planning a new Windows XP-like look and feel, which is scheduled to be unveiled globally at the same time as the official arrival of the boxed product this Thursday. Check out a preview of what MSNing will be like post-launch on its Brazilian site where the new season's fashion seems to have arrived a little early.

UK retail chain PC World will open three of its key stores on Wednesday night at the stroke of midnight to serve the needs of eager consumers who can't wait any longer for their own copy. A spokesman says staff will be on hand to help at its Croydon, Catford and Staples Corner outlets.

Elsewhere, Microsoft and HMV will be trying to shoot, edit and broadcast a new music video of indie band The Electric Soft Parade in record time at HMV's Oxford Circus, London store, highlighting the new movie-making features in the software.

The attempt will start at 9a.m. and won't stop until the video is broadcast (via MSN, of course). From what we can tell, the record shouldn't be particularly backbreaking to beat, with the prior record, held by Live Aid, allegedly coming in at about four days. ®

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