Microsoft could offer attendees of September's BUILD conference a quad-core tablet running Windows 8, speculate a number of reports emerging online.
Those reports have their origin in Microsoft's recent TechEd New Zealand conference, where Microsoft principal architect Patrick Hevesi apparently offered up a glimpse of this rumored tablet. IT consultant Alan Burchill, attending the conference, snapped off a couple of quick images, which he subsequently posted on his blog at Smartergeek.info.
From there, the story broke into the larger blogosphere. Burchill's photos don't offer a glimpse at the tablet's operating system, but speculation is rampant that the device will be handed out to BUILD attendees loaded with a test version of Windows 8. "Most Microsoft watchers are expecting Microsoft to provide paying attendees with a test build of Windows 8," Mary-Jo Foley wrote in an Aug. 25 posting on her All About Microsoft blog, "and maybe some kind of PC or slate prototype to use to develop applications for the coming operating system."
The BUILD conference kicks off in Anaheim, Calif., on Sept. 13.
Microsoft is designing Windows 8 to work on tablets in addition to traditional PCs, something the company likely hopes will allow it to make inroads into a segment of the mobility market currently dominated by Apple's iPad. In order to bridge the gap between touch-centric and traditional keyboard devices, Microsoft went back to the drawing board with Windows 8's user interface: in place of the "desktop" that defined older versions of Windows, the newest operating system will feature colorful tiles reminiscent of Microsoft's Windows Phone.
"So much has changed since Windows 95-the last time Windows was significantly overhauled-when the -desktop' metaphor was established," Windows and Windows Live division president Steven Sinofsky wrote in the inaugural Aug. 15 posting on the "Building Windows 8" blog. "Today, more than two out of three PCs are mobile (laptops, netbooks, notebooks, tablets, slates, convertibles, etc.). Nearly every PC is capable of wireless connectivity."
Among Windows 8's new features: an app store, support for USB 3.0, and a streamlined file-management system. The presence of a Microsoft-branded App Store would also let Windows 8 on tablets compete on equal footing against rivals such as the iPad (which offers access to Apple's App Store) and Android devices (which include Android Marketplace).
Windows 8 is supposedly due to arrive sometime in 2012.