From the editor's desk: 12 Days sweepstakes, Microsofties in our forums and more

This last week of Windows Central has certainly been an interesting one. If you missed much of the news, or need a solid recap, make sure to catch our ICYMI series that goes up on Saturdays. Those articles tend to highlight all the big stories of the week, letting you catch up on things if you missed a day.

Perhaps two of our biggest stories have been the renewal of our Hidden Gems campaign and Microsoft engineers and developers lending a hand in our forums to talk all things Windows 10. For the first part, I'd like to quickly chat about something that will be controversial: the US/Canada-only nature of the sweepstakes.

12 Days of Hidden Gems and US/Canada sweepstakes

Over the next few weeks, Windows Central will be doing a series of articles highlighting some apps, sometimes with some super cool connected hardware. Sponsored by Microsoft, the 12 Days of Hidden Gems will be a chance for us to focus on a few apps and games for Windows and Windows Phone, including one or two that not on the Store. You can read the full announcement here.

Unfortunately, the sweepstakes this time around is only going to be for those in the US and Canada. Another article coming up tomorrow morning will outline how you can participate in Hidden Gems sweepstakes, but I wanted to give the early heads up to our readers outside of North America.

With a big company like Microsoft signing off on this (and footing the bill for the prizes), it means we have to dot all the I's and cross all the T's and do everything as officially official as possible. And sweepstakes stuff is a complex thing! Due to the complexity of how these things work and the relatively tight timing involved in bringing this all together so we can run it before the end of the year, this time around our prize winners must be from the United States and/or Canada.

Obviously, our goal is to always give back to the community as much as possible around the world, especially as a significant percentage of Windows Central's audience does come from outside of North America.

With that out of the way, I am just going to say this: feel free to gripe about in comments on this post here and now. Just be aware, that such comments will likely be removed from the actual Hidden Gems posts because they are off topic. Removal of off-topic comments is our usual policy here, but we know you folks are a vibrant, vocal bunch and we are trying to keep a positive vibe in these parts. So you this post to vent if you feel that you must.

That said, just because you may be outside of North America and can't win a prize in the sweepstakes, that doesn't mean you're not allowed to participate in the 12 Days of Hidden Gems. I hope to see all of our community involved – leaving quality comments to the Hidden Gems articles and helping to spread word of the event socially. The greater the success we can make the event, the better it is for Microsoft and for Windows Central. We're never too far away from our next giveaway here on Windows Central, so we'll make sure the next one goes global again. Thank you for your understanding and support!

Microsoft in our support forums

On Friday night, Windows Central announced that numerous Microsoft engineers and developers are now in our forums. Their job is to facilitate discussion on Windows 10, including discussing features people want, issues with current builds and in general, ways to make the software – and services – better.

This move is a big deal for Microsoft and our site, as to our knowledge we are the only site to have such a partnership in place. If you missed that announcement, including who to watch out for in our Forums, make sure you read the announcement post with accompanying names of Microsoft employees.

Interestingly enough, this program is already set to expand in the coming days with even more Microsoft employees joining the initiative. More information on that is coming soon.

More of these and podcast return

I should also note that such articles as these – the editor's desk posts – are likely to become a regular thing. Usually I try to unplug on the weekends in an effort to prevent burnout (and maintain a private life), but alas even I have orders and obligations. As such, I now have to do these types of articles on Friday, Sunday or Monday, often matching those on Android Central and iMore.

And yes, that really is my desk in the lead photo, so long as I am being literal here.

Of course, such articles are a great way for me to rant a little about the week's news, or talk about items that are not necessarily suitable for a stand-alone article. Perhaps we will even work into some 'Q&A' stuff to make it fun. In addition, your feedback is always encouraged in comments.

Speaking of obligations, it has come to my attention that we have not done a podcast in a very, very, very long time. Reasons for absence span from time constraints, time zones, and perhaps the biggest one, finding time to produce them (including the garbage system that is Google Hangouts and YouTube). As a New Year's resolution, I vow to get this back on track in 2015, just as soon as we work out a few logistic issues.

Anyway, that is it for now as I try to enjoy a few more hours of these very short weekend. Mark Guim and I shot a few videos yesterday, some of which you can see in the coming days. Stay tuned.

Daniel Rubino

Daniel Rubino is the Editor-in-chief of Windows Central. He is also the head reviewer, podcast co-host, and analyst. He has been covering Microsoft since 2007, when this site was called WMExperts (and later Windows Phone Central). His interests include Windows, laptops, next-gen computing, and watches. He has been reviewing laptops since 2015 and is particularly fond of 2-in-1 convertibles, ARM processors, new form factors, and thin-and-light PCs. Before all this tech stuff, he worked on a Ph.D. in linguistics, watched people sleep (for medical purposes!), and ran the projectors at movie theaters because it was fun.