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, head reviewer, podcast co-host, and analyst. He has been here covering Microsoft since 2007 when this site was called WMExperts (and later Windows Phone Central). His interests include Windows, Microsoft Surface, laptops, next-gen computing, and for some reason, watches. Before all this tech stuff, he worked on a Ph.D. in linguistics and ran the projectors at movie theaters, which has done absolutely nothing for his career.

  • Awesome photo. So literal! :)
  • Is that one idea, segmented by a period, or two distinct expressive commentaries?
  • One idea, segmented by a period. It's a photo of a desk, for an "editor's desk" post. So literal. :)
  • lol ¿Miami living, speaking Spanish¿ 
  • Much doge. Less meaning. Wow
  • A lot of really nice MS products there....
    Just saw a new iPhone commercial showing off it's new voice to text.... Terrific ad.... Microsoft is dumb.
  • We're so proud of you, Danny boy! Keep up the great work!
  • Sorry... To steal your comment but this needs to be seen..i guess. The news of arrival of windows 10 has brought upon many changes in this sites' outlook and domain.....(i mean literally :D ) and I love these changes... Wpc was also on with xbox and windows news....but now with a serious commitment to those segments can be felt.... But what I want to point out is that we still are a little behind or I don't know what to say but wc reporting on windows 10 especially seems not that robust and on par with xbox and wp news....and also when compared to other Microsoft centric sites....i love wc...and I know big changes are I just hope that a rigorous and in-depth reporting on windows is also one of the changes. :)
  • It would be nice to show us a tour of your workplace :)
  • He did that in an article many months ago, I'll see if I can find it.
  • thanks but i mean the whole office
  • I love the desk. Really
  • I'm looking forward to the podacast coming back.
  • Love the desk setup, bummed about US-only sweepstakes.
  • I wonder if that sweet desk is part of the sweepstakes
  • He did a full article on it once before, it was an awesome read!
  • Wonderful!!!
  • K, :/
  • Great post! In every sense
  • Windows Central ❤
  • I'm glad we're going to see more "FTED" articles here too. I always enjoy the ones Phil runs at Android Central. And boy do they often go completely random and off-topic. And I think that's nice. So if you feel like the FTED's articles can burn you out, just do what Phil does and take that chance to vent about random stuff that doesn't necessarily have to do with tech or WP.   And I also enjoy AC's Podcasts. So...if you need help on the Podcasts, I'm sure the folks at AC will help you with the Hangouts/YouTube part of it at least ;D   (As for the sweepstakes...meh. Not surprised AT ALL. The moment you write "we're partnering with Microsoft" anyone who has been paying attention will immediately know that such thing will be "US Only" is basically everything Microsoft does. And not that it really matters. Microsoft sucks at doing international sweepstakes. They still haven't shipped the prizes they awarded people upon the launch of the Surface 2. That was OVER A YEAR AGO. So yeah. If it's Microsoft it equals "US Only". We're used to it. That's why we often go for their competitors products across the pond.)
  • I agree that Dan should be more like Phil.
  • Speak of the Devil lol, Oh Hey Phil! Good to see you here :P
  • "Canada is part of the US" - DJCBS, 2014
  • You can't quote things I didn't say. That's lesson number 1. Lesson number 2 is: you know perfectly well what I mean and you know perfectly well that the fact that Canada is included is just a happy casualty for Canadians.  And here's lesson number 3: You do realise American Corporations often treat Canada as if they were part of the US, right? Business strategies in big American Corporations normally don't "see" that silly 20 foot spaced line that was man-designed to split the USA and Canada. They work as if the region was a whole.   For lesson number 4 you'll need to start paying. And be glad I'm not like Microsoft otherwise this lesson would have been EU-only. ;)
  • I agree with you regarding Phil's FTEDs posts ... I enjoy reading them
  • Yes! I love the NSFW and From the Editor's Desk columns on iMore and Android Central, so I'm really glad that Windows Central will now be participating in editorials regularly now. :D
  • You won't get NSFW articles here...unless Microsoft opens WP a lot...*   (*I'm not sure I should have written it this
  • Yes you should have. I was amused :)
  • I think he means Peter Cohen articles over at iMore, they are similar to Phil's & Rene's ... Peter calls them NSFW ...
  • AC actually has NSFW articles as Android allows adults to have adult content in their phones ;)
  • Oh that's right, I totally forgot about them ... I remember the comments when Phil made the Android After Midnight announcement :P
  • Yup, perhaps my favorite segment on Mobile Nations. I'm not a major Apple fan, but god do I love Peter's writing!
  • Love the pink water bottle lid :-)
  • That's not pink, that's fuchsia! LOL
  • Seriously though, I look forward to more editor articles. One topic I would like to see more of is comparisons to different OS's. Like it or not, many of us are deciding what our next phone will be, or curious how things work on other OS's. I have a 920 and a work iPhone and am always comparing and contrasting myself.
  • How about starting a thread entitiled, If You Didn't Use Windows Phone, What OS Would You Use and Why? I'm curious what WC members would have to say.
  • Really missed the podcasts, Daniel! Great to hear about them!
    BTW, please tell your MSFT fellows to give love to those who most support them -- I'm talking about my admired Italians :)
    It's not only Windows Central: WP owes a lot of attention to some European and Asian countries, to my think, specially now during the brand transition ;)
  • Good luck to everyone in the sweep stake. I can't enter due to being in UK... But glad to see a lot of people can enter..... Can we also do a new feature? I see so many people win... But how about a story that they write expressing how they reacted and some pics... Would be great to see
  • Great idea for a new segment there ! :)
  • I'm waiting to see that All-in-one PC replaced by the Surface Pro with Dock. That's the dream workstation.   Daniel, do you have a PC that's running the Windows 10 Tech Preview which you use regularly?
  • Great to see gems coming back to bad there are a few hold out OEMs that are slow to update their hardware(im looking @ you Samsung Canada) service provider or not
  • Stand Your Ground Dan! You need at least 1 day a week to unplug.... ~ ok somewhat...lets be real :-)
    We just have to find balance in this 24/7 world we live in. Take care of yourself though.
  • Love the workplace :3 but its too tidied up to believe its real :D
  • Looking forward to it :)
  • WOW he's surely Microsoft Fanboy, but I like the setup.
  • Can't wait and awesome to see the Microsoft Community joining in at Windows Central. Says alot about a site when (official) members join.
  • That monitor...
  • Finally, another weekend, where no news comes out..! :P
  • Nice cupholder.
  • Dan, are you running the second monitor of the XPS? If so, how does the resolution difference pan out?
  • Yes, it has a mini DP or HDMI outputs. I'm now using another QHD+ monitor instead of the 1080p one seen in this photo.
  • US and Canada only..... .... ....
  • Just beautiful!
  • Grrr, finally a sweepstakes I'm into and it's available to Canada, but alas, I cannot participate as I'm now working for Microsoft. I'm still going to play though, haha.
  • Daniel, it's an inspiring work table. Do you mind to specify the table dimension and material for me? I think I want to make the same for me.
  • An article on this is already available
  • Okay, I've just found it on previous reply. Thanks pal.
  • Pretty exciting changes on the horizon. Can't wait for windows 10.
  • Sorry, but i think, the people its getting tired of the some story.... US only... Serious, I love this forum, but I'm hoping someone's create something like this but only for EU only. I'm not racist, but I hate the American people
  • Hmm I'm an American so I guess you hate me as well lol get over yourself. You don't know me and I don't know you. Also there's a lot of hatred in this World so don't add more fuel to this giant fire.
  • Sorry, but after your comment I've figured out two things: (1) you're an assh*le and (2) you're from Portugal. So, anyone as short minded as you should conclude that all the Portuguese