Perhaps we're just used to Microsoft accessories costing so much money (I see you, $129 Surface 3 Type Cover), but the intriguing Display Dock that Microsoft announced as a companion to its flagship Lumia 950 and 950 XL handsets will be free.
At least, for a while. "While supplies last," according to Microsoft, and only for those in the U.S. And you'll have to wait a while to actually get the thing, it seems.
If you peek at the official Terms & Conditions, you can see that the offer of a free Display Dock runs just from Nov 20, 2015 - Jan 31, 2016. (So, we guess--wait to preorder for a few more days?) When you buy a Lumia 950 XL from the Microsoft Online Store, you'll get a $99 promotional code that you can redeem online any time before February 29, 2016, and it will take 8-10 weeks (!) for Microsoft to get you the Display Dock.
Arduous waiting aside, this is a brilliant way for Microsoft to gauge interest in the Display Dock. The company can easily compare sales of the Lumia 950 XL via its website to the number of claimed Display Docks. Giving them away removes a certain barrier for users, and making customers take an extra step to claim it will give Microsoft at least a clue as to whether or not anyone wants it. (Handing it out for free without asking would give the company no data at all.)
Preorder The Unlocked Lumia 950 XL Now
The Lumia 950 XL itself is now available for preorder on the Microsoft Online Store for $649. You can snag the black or white version, and of course, the handsets are unlocked.
The listing noted that the phones will begin shipping on December 11. Presumably, they'll all arrive in time for Christmas (but they likely won't make it to buyers by the end of Hanukkah, on December 14).
Windows 10 For Phones Assumptions
Microsoft has been vague on exact dates for these handsets, as well as for when the hotly-anticipated Windows 10 for phones update will roll out -- "December" is the time frame -- but in light of the fact that the Lumia 950 XL will start shipping on December 11, it's a good bet that the rollout will begin around the same time.
This holiday season is going to be key for Microsoft's mobile adventures. Presumably, there are throngs of Windows Phone users who have been waiting for a new Lumia handset, but that's a gamble. Strong sales of the Lumia 950 XL and numerous Display Dock offer claims over the next couple of months are paramount; a tepid showing would be a disaster, as Microsoft already barely has a pulse in the U.S. mobile market.
Update, 11/18/15, 8:25pm PT: The free Display Dock offer will extend to Microsoft Online Stores in the UK, Ireland and Gerrmany; although unconfirmed via sources, it's also clearly available in Canada as well.
Seth Colaner is the News Director at Tom's Hardware. He curates and edits the news channel and also writes on a variety of topics. He would have become a professional ultimate Frisbee player, but he was born 15 years too early.