Microsoft holds an employee event every year where Steve Ballmer discusses the state of the company. It's a good way to increase morale and give the company's 90,000 employees an idea of where the company is headed next year. This year was a little different, however, as Ballmer got into the holiday spirit a little early.
Ballmer announced at the event that every single full-time Microsoft employee would be getting a Surface tablet, a Windows Phone 8, and a new touch-enabled Windows 8 PC. Employees will be able to use the Surface and Windows Phone at home and work, but the PC is strictly for work. Microsoft employees were reportedly ecstatic with the gifts and took to social networks to announce the news.
Free stuff is a nice gesture on the part of Ballmer, but it has a secondary purpose. The company wants its employees to start extolling the benefits of using Windows 8 over its competitors. The Surface and Windows Phone 8 gifts are extremely important to this cause. These are the devices that Microsoft is hoping to get into the hands of consumers around the world. Microsoft sees that the PC market is shrinking and they're trying to get in the mobile device party before it's too late.
It's a good move, but Microsoft employees might not be the best choice to reach the regular consumer. Microsoft is still kind of seen as the nerdy PC maker that's only good for work-related tasks. They need to prove that Surface and Windows Phone 8 are just as hip and fun as the competition. Having young people become Windows 8 evangelists would be a much more effective marketing strategy.
With that being said, I'm envious of Microsoft employees. I really want a Surface tablet, but I don't know if I can just justify the still undisclosed price. It would be nice if that rumored $200 price point was real.[h/t: Forbes]