Microsoft’s busy launch season continues today when the devices and services maker formally launches Windows Phone 8 in San Francisco. Widely seen as the last stand in this market for both Microsoft and its biggest mobile partner Nokia, Windows Phone 8 is based on Windows 8 and has the technical chops to take on both Apple iPhone and Google Android.

Microsoft will be broadcasting the Windows Phone 8 launch event live at 10:00 a.m. PT Monday, and will be broadcasting the event from the Microsoft News Center and its Facebook page online. I’m in San Francisco for the event and will be tweeting my reactions live from show—follow my Twitter page for the hilarity. But I’ve also prepared a lengthy overview of Windows Phone 8 that will go live at noon PT. Watch the SuperSite for Windows for details.

Long story short: The big news I’m waiting for today is concrete information about device availability, but my sources tell me we can expect some good news on that front with the first devices shipping as soon as this coming week.

Last week, of course, Microsoft held a multi-product launch event in New York City, with Windows 8, Windows RT, and Surface with Windows RT all heading into the eager arms of customers. And for once, that isn’t hyperbole: Microsoft generated actual excitement and—more important—long, long lines at its retail locations around North America, where people waited for a chance to buy the firm’s iPad alternative.

And like Apple, Microsoft isn’t afraid to advertise: The company is spending over $1 billion advertising Windows 8 and Surface, according to Ad Age—approximately twice the usual budget. And as with Apple, those ads aren’t about helping users figure out the pragmatic benefits of its products but rather about projecting a cool lifestyle image.

Windows Phone 8 could use some of those ad dollars, too! The innovative smartphone platform has, thus far, not excited customers. But with its move to a Windows 8 code base and a clearer mission in the face of iPhone sameness and Android chaos, anything is possible. After all, folks, Microsoft is hip again, remember?