By Alexandra Burlacu | Sep 16, 2012 10:50 AM EDT
Microsoft is in a generous mood, and will reportedly give all 90,000+ of its full-time direct employees known as "Blue Badges" a bunch of freebies, including the company's soon-to-be-launched Surface tablet.
Microsoft's annual employee meeting took place in Seattle on Friday, Sept. 13, but the event was off-limits to the public and media. Under Steve Ballmer's leadership, the meeting usually involves encouraging speeches from various Microsoft executives, and this year it also involved some exciting free stuff.
According to a Forbes report, all 90,000+ full-time Microsoft employees will receive three consistent gifts: a Windows RT Surface tablet, a Windows 8 PC, and a Windows Phone 8 handset. Employees are reportedly free to use the phone and tablet at home and at work, but the PC is for work only.
Although the meeting was closed to the media, some employees were so psyched that they posted messages on Twitter and Facebook, expressing their excitement at Ballmer's announcement. "Best. Company meeting. Ever," was one employee's message, as cited by Forbes.
While this is arguably a very generous giveaway, it's also about business. Microsoft employees need to be up to speed with the company's new products and its next-generation operating system, scheduled for release next month. Employees also need to get familiar with Microsoft's new surface tablet, the software giant's first foray into the crowded tablet market and the hardware business.
The Surface tablet sports a 10.6-inch display with 16:9 aspect ratio, and comes with a Touch Cover keyboard. It will be available in two models - one running Windows 8 Pro, and a more basic version running Windows RT. The RT version will hit stores in late October, while the Surface Pro tablet is not expected to hit stores until early 2013.
Microsoft offered no official details on pricing yet, but Ballmer told The Seattle Times in an interview that the "sweet spot" for Surface is somewhere between "$300 to about $700 or $800."
While this is Microsoft's first step into the hardware business, Ballmer said the company may launch even more hardware in the future.
"I think when you look forward, our core capability will be software, [but] you'll probably think of us more as a devices-and-services company," he told The Seattle Times. Ballmer acknowledged that Microsoft would be "a little different" as a company in the future, but noted that it does not "have to make every device" and people should not "leap to that conclusion."
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