Microsoft to Show Off Tablet OS Next Week

Microsoft is preparing to demonstrate its response to the iPad and other tablet computers next week at the D: All Things Digital conference, according to published reports.

At the event, Wednesday morning, Steven Sinofsky, president of Microsoft's (NASDAQ: MSFT) Windows and Windows Live Division, will show off the pending system running on a Tegra ARM chip made by Nvidia. Bloomberg news service said it confirmed the story Thursday, citing three anonymous sources aware of the company's plans.

Rumors that Sinofsky would show an ARM-based version of Windows 8 running on a tablet computer at the show surfaced earlier in the week on the tech blog site WinRumors.

Microsoft gave a similar preview of its upcoming "Mango" update to Windows Phone 7 (WP7) this past Tuesday at a company event in New York, where it claimed the upgrade will add some 500 new features.

Meanwhile, Steven Guggenheimer, corporate vice president of Microsoft's OEM Division, is also scheduled to present a demo of Windows 8 running on an ARM tablet at the Computex conference in Taipei, Bloomberg said.

The ARM CPU is, by far, the dominant processor used in smartphones, and also underlies Google's (NASDAQ: GOOG) Android system.

Microsoft is widely seen as far behind the curve in the tablet computer market, well behind Apple's (NASDAQ: AAPL) popular iPad, which is already into its second generation.

Sinofsky gave a short demo of what is likely to be named Windows 8 running on ARM processors in early January at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas.

However, Windows 8 on ARM is not expected to reach consumers before next year. That's significantly later than originally expected, when CEO Steve Ballmer told analysts attending its annual Financial Analysts Meeting last July that supporting tablets was "job one."

Given the pressure on Microsoft to come out with a viable tablet operating system sooner rather than later, the company may release ARM-based versions of Windows 8 before it releases versions for x86 processors, WinRumors said.

That may have something to do with the dustup between Intel and Microsoft in mid-May regarding planned Windows 8 versions.

In that imbroglio, an Intel senior executive claimed that there would be at least four different -- and incompatible -- versions of Windows 8 for ARM CPUs, a statement that Microsoft took angry exception to -- calling the Intel executive's comments "inaccurate and misleading."

A Microsoft spokesperson declined to comment for this story.

Stuart J. Johnston is a contributing editor at InternetNews.com, the news service of Internet.com, the network for technology professionals. Follow him on Twitter @stuartj1000.

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