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Touring Microsoft, Sony and Apple Stores on Windows 8’s Launch Day

When Microsoft launched Windows 8 last week, it was the culmination of a long wait. For most folks, it was a rather jarring thrust into the future. For better or worse, the operating system that introduces the touch-oriented Metro UI to the Windows environment had arrived.

No one is more excited about the launch than Microsoft. The company has launched pop-up holiday stores at malls across America to promote the new OS and the Surface RT. I had a chance to check in with one at Aventura Mall in Miami, Florida.

Microsoft at War: Keeping Score of Redmond's Success and Fail Stories

Microsoft sits on the edge of a product launch that is plainly among the most important in the company’s history. It comes at a time when the company’s traditional hardware partners are facing ferocious market pressure from the commoditization of their products, and of course, the juggernaut known as the iPad.

As can be expected, the company’s many cheerleaders and haters are out in full force. Pundits can and will pontificate on Windows 8’s chances. However, what might be more useful is looking at Microsoft’s other make or break moments. The upcoming launch is far from the first time that Redmond has fought with its back against a wall. A backward glance at these moments, and careful evaluation of them, may provide a better, ahem, window into the company’s chances this Winter.

Weekend tech reading: Why Microsoft's tablet can't fail

Weekend tech reading: Why Microsoft's tablet can't fail

After stripping us of our cellphones and anything else that can take pictures, a Microsoft employee who does not stop smiling directs us into a blank, white rectangle of a room, where Panos Panay, the general manager of Microsoft Surface, explains that we're the very first journalists...