Microsoft to show off Windows 8 tablet

Ballmer expected to demo new OS at CES

Microsoft is expected to offer a first look at its forthcoming OS, Windows 8, on a tablet PC at the Consumer Electronics Show next year.

The New York Times was told by an unnamed source that Steve Ballmer, chief executive of the tech firm, will show off the OS on a tablet PC during his keynote speech at the show, which will take place in Las Vegas between January 6 and 9.

When Ballmer takes the stage, he is also expected to unveil a "slew" of new tablet PCs in a bid to rival the popularity of the Apple iPad.

Dell and Samsung are among the manufacturers that have built the tablet PCs that will be unveiled. The Samsung-manufactured device is "similar in size and shape to the Apple iPad, although it is not as thin".

The source also told the New York Times the tablet PC "includes a unique and slick keyboard that slides out from below for easy typing".

"The company believes there is a huge market for business people who want to enjoy a slate for reading newspapers and magazines and then work on Microsoft Word, Excel or PowerPoint while doing work," the source said.

Samsung has already launched a tablet PC, the Samsung Galaxy Tab, which runs Google's Android operating system, which has proved popular - selling one million units in the first two months it was on sale.

Microsoft is also encouraging its partners to develop apps for the OS that use the new web standard, HTML5.

In July this year, Microsoft planning documents shared with HP and other OEM partners were leaked online, and revealed that Windows 8 will allow users to log into their PC using their face rather than a password, as facial recognition technology is being included in the OS. Users will also benefit from a Windows identity that follows them across all of the devices they use. This means your settings and preferences would roam with you as you move from a desktop to a laptop, and to smaller devices such as tablet PCs..

Other documents leaked online have hinted that the OS will benefit from faster startup times and support for burgeoning high-speed connectivity standards such as USB 3.0 and Bluetooth 3.0.

Microsoft has yet to officially confirm when Windows 8 will hit shelves, but at last year's Professional Developers' Conference (PDC), Microsoft roadmaps suggested the operating system would be made available to consumer some time in 2012.

At this year's CES, Ballmer and Robbie Bach, president of the company's Entertainment & Devices division, unveiled a tablet PC from HP, which was running Windows 7.

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Carrie-Ann Skinner

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