On Thursday, Microsoft is set to unveil what could be its most critical operating system upgrade to date—Windows 8. The long-time PC software company is launching its next iteration of Windows on Friday, and will introduce the world to its new mobile-centric OS today.

Microsoft will be holding an event in New York City, presumably to showcase its finished product, highlight the features of Windows 8, and discuss its upcoming Surface tablet.

Windows 8 has been quite an endeavor for Microsoft thus far---while some industry big shots such as head of computer gaming company Valve have slammed the new OS, Microsoft has continued to express confidence in its new software. When speaking with The Seattle Times in September, the company’s CEO Steve Ballmer said that he is “not paid to have doubts” when asked about the future of Windows 8.

Microsoft’s chairman and co-founder Bill Gates recently echoed Ballmer’s sentiment in a sit-down interview with the Redmond, Wash.-based company’s Steve Clayton.

“This is a big milestone for all Microsoft products, in terms of connecting to cloud services,” Gates said earlier this week. “People will be pretty amazed about the energy Microsoft’s putting behind this new wave of products. We’ve really saved up in terms of knowing that this was such an important set of innovations, whether it’s great new apps or ISV engagement or just plain marketing; this is the big time for us.”

Partners such as Lenovo, Acer and Asus have begun readying their batch of Windows 8-enabled touch screen convertible laptops, which are set to hit the market after its launch. Windows 8 marks a huge step for both Microsoft and the mobile industry in general: this is the company’s first major overhaul in its traditional PC OS; a change Microsoft may need to stay relevant in a quickly evolving mobile ecosystem.

Microsoft’s event will begin at 11 a.m. EST, and viewers can tune in on the company’s official web page here. For those who wish to catch the highlights without watching the entire keynote, check out the following live blogs:

CNET Coverage of Microsoft’s Windows 8 launch will be available on CNE beginning at 7:45 a.m. PT, 10:45 EST. Viewers can read their live blog here.

Wired The website’s Gadget Lab will be providing live updates straight from Microsoft’s event, courtesy of Alexandra Chang. Check out their live blog here.

The Telegraph This U.K-based publication will be crossing the pond to deliver minute-to-minute updates on Microsoft’s Windows 8 event. They’ve already started some pre-coverage, which you can see here.

Will you be tuning in to Microsoft’s event? Sound off in the comments below.