The Next at Microsoft blog, self described as the "director's cut of Microsoft", has an interview with Microsoft's Chairman, Bill Gates, talking about the importance of Windows 8 and Windows Phone 8.
Bill Gates describes Windows 8 as "the future of personal computing" and says its a crucial release for Microsoft. He also speaks about natural user interface and how Windows 8 integrates touch with existing interface capabilities, such as mouse and keyboard. That's why Microsoft is blending speech, mouse, keyboard, touch, camera etc. together in the new operating system.
On Windows Phone 8 he says that Microsoft is already sharing the interface and developers tools with Windows 8, and "over time we'll get to do more and more of that, so its evolving into being, laterally, a single platform". This means it "makes it easy for the user to move back and forth" between devices.
More generally Windows 8 and Windows Phone 8 are a "big milestone for all Microsoft products, in terms of connecting to cloud services". Bill Gates goes onto say that he thinks "people will be surprised by the energy Microsoft is putting behind this new wave of products" and concludes that this "is the big time for us".
That attitude is probably the best way to sum up the internal attitude at Microsoft to the importance of the next ten days, which will see the formal launch of both Windows 8, Windows Phone 8 and the Surface tablet device.