Windows 7 With the days counting down to the official launch of Windows 7 on Thursday, Microsoft and friends have been cranking up the hype machine - but not without a few hiccups along the way.

The extravaganza of planned promotional activities includes launch parties far and wide on the Oct 22 ship date and afterward; the release of new Window 7 PCs, including Nokia's new netbook on the same date; Microsoft's sponsorship of the cartoon 'Family Guy' to be aired on US Fox TV on Nov 8; and an apparently related 12-week college tour with Fox.

In case you haven't heard about it yet, the main event is set for Oct 22 in New York City. So far, Microsoft has been somewhat secretive about specifics, listing only the time, location, and anticipated appearance of CEO Steve Ballmer on the coveted invitations.

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But if you can't make it to the New York event, don't worry. There are alternatives. Microsoft pals - outfitted by the company with Windows 7 'party packs' - will be hosting their own launch parties at sites around the world on Oct 22 and afterward, complete with drawings and giveaways.

By and large, Windows 7 is getting much better reviews than Vista, its ill-fated predecessor. Already, though, a few flies are showing up in the Win7 promotional ointment. Some of those who've previewed the 'Family Guy' special aren't exactly impressed, to put it mildly.

Meanwhile, some of those tapped by Microsoft to host their own launch parties have been attempting to auction off their "party packs" on eBay. Times must be tough, indeed.

According to CNET, Microsoft has teamed up with eBay to block the auctions. Meanwhile, however, website Neowin reports that at least one lucky guy has managed to get Microsoft's permission to sell off the promo party packs to the highest bidder.

See also:

Microsoft Windows 7 review

Windows 7 PC reviews

PC World