Will Microsoft Give Out Windows 8 Tablets?

Like a well choreographed ballet, Microsoft is gradually ramping up excitement for its upcoming Windows 8, with the latest rumors pegging the software giant not only showing off tablet computers built on the pre-beta system at its Build developers conference in Anaheim next week -- some sources even say Microsoft will send attendees home with working prototypes.

Microsoft (NASDAQ: MSFT) began building tension and interest in the upcoming replacement to Windows 7 in January at the annual Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas where Steven Sinofsky, president of Microsoft's Windows and Windows Live Division, showed off Windows 8 demo systems running on ARM-based systems-on-a-chip.

Some of those were from South Korean mobile device titan Samsung, the same OEM that is rumored to be providing units that sources say Microsoft will distribute next week.

Microsoft's Windows 8 CES debut has been followed by a sort of "dance of the seven veils" wherein apparently-coordinated leaks and brief demos have occurred at irregular intervals, ostensibly with the intent to generate interest and enthusiasm among influential customers, partners, and the media.

Microsoft had been expected to deliver a technical preview of Windows 8 to attendees at Build, in much the same manner that it had done three years earlier with the first tech previews of Windows 7.

In that case, Microsoft delivered the commercial release of Windows 7 just slightly more than a year later, which may bode similarly for Windows 8 -- although, Windows 8 will come in ARM and x86 versions.

According to published reports, Samsung is expected to show a tablet computer running the preview code. That rumor first surfaced in a report by Korea Economic Daily this week.

However, additional rumors, notably from rumor site WinRumors, now have Microsoft's Sinofsky announcing next Tuesday at the conference keynote that at least some attendees will receive Windows 8-based Samsung tablets.

A Microsoft spokesperson declined to comment on the latest Windows 8 rumors.

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.