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Microsoft exec Steven Sinofsky announces the date at an internal event in Atlanta. (Microsoft photo)

Microsoft will launch Windows 8 on Friday, Oct. 26, the company announced today.

Windows president Steven Sinofsky announced the date this afternoon at Microsoft’s internal sales conference in Atlanta. The company had previously said Windows 8 would reach general availability in late October, but executives hadn’t given a specific date.

Windows 8 is the biggest change in the flagship operating system since Windows 95, as the company tries to remake the interface to work across tablets and traditional computers.

No word on the release date for Microsoft’s Surface tablet computers. The company has said previously that the machines will be available around the same time as Windows 8.

The October timeframe is something of a tradition for Windows, but the Friday launch is unusual. Windows XP was launched on Oct 25, 2001, a Thursday; and Windows 7 debuted on Oct. 22, 2009, also a Thursday. (Windows Vista debuted on Jan. 30, 2007, a Thursday, after a devastating delay that caused the operating system to miss the holiday season.)

And for the record, Windows 95 launched on Aug. 24, 1995, a Thursday.

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