Samsung to show a Windows 8 tablet next week, report says

New OS would be alternative to Android, now under heavy legal attack

Samsung reportedly will unveil a new tablet computer that runs on the Windows 8 OS next week at Microsoft's BUILD conference in Anaheim, Calif.

Samsung said it had no comment on the tablet report, which first appeared in the Korea Economic Daily, citing an unnamed source. The report has subsequently appeared on the AFP news service and the Wall Street Journal. The BUILD conference begins Tuesday.

Microsoft could not be reached for comment on the report.

Running Windows 8 in a Samsung tablet would become a convenient alternative to the legally imperiled Android OS used in Samsung's Galaxy Tab computers. It would be Samsung's first Windows-based tablet, although it already makes Windows-based laptops.

Today, a German court ruled that Samsung cannot sell the Galaxy Tab 10.1 in Germany because its design is too similar to Apple's iPad 2.

Apple has lodged a number of patent and intellectual property lawsuits in various countries against Samsung and other Android tablet and smartphone makers. Samsung has also sued Apple over intellectual property issues related to wireless technology used in tablets and smartphones in recent months.

Experts have counted at least 19 lawsuits in nine countries where the two companies are battling, including one that Apple filed in April in U.S. district court in California. A hearing is set for October on that matter.

Samsung said it will appeal today's ruling. However, turning to another OS such as Windows 8 would give Samsung an arguably quicker alternative means of selling tablets.

Legal experts noted that taking the technology route could be much faster than working through a number of courts on patent disputes or entering into protracted discussions with Apple on licensing fees, which could ultimately raise the cost of Samsung products.

Jack Gold, a technology analyst at J. Gold Associates, said if Samsung has a Windows 8 tablet coming it would only partly be designed as a hedge against Android lawsuits brought against Samsung. He noted that Samsung is a large manufacturer with a long history of supporting a wide range of operating systems on various products, even though Samsung only has built Android tablets thus far.

"Samsung delivers one of everything and supports [almost] every OS out there, so this [Windows 8 tablet] is not out of character at all," Gold said.

For example, Samsung already makes laptop computers running on various Windows versions, he noted. "A Windows tablet would be an extension of Samsung's laptop line, but at the same time would appeal to those users who want to stay on Windows, and especially business users who want to keep the same apps running," Gold said.

Samsung has already made smartphones running Windows Phone 7, along with other manufacturers, but that is a fairly different OS from Windows 8.

Ironically, Samsung was an early supplier of the "ill-fated Windows tablet PCs," which some term the Ultra-Mobile PC, or UMPC, that appeared on the scene several years ago, Gold noted.

"Samsung has historically been on board with new devices and form factors and has worked closely with Microsoft and Intel in the past, and continue to do so now," Gold said.

Matt Hamblen covers mobile and wireless, smartphones and other handhelds, and wireless networking for Computerworld. Follow Matt on Twitter at @matthamblen or subscribe to Matt's RSS feed. His e-mail address is mhamblen@computerworld.com.

Read more about mobile and wireless in Computerworld's Mobile and Wireless Topic Center.

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Matt Hamblen

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