Three countries in Asia will be the first to see devices based on Microsoft Corp.'s Tablet PC operating system go on commercial sale later Thursday as part of a worldwide roll-out that will end almost where it begins.
The first nation to see the launch of Windows XP Tablet Edition and devices based on the system will be Australia. That will be followed by launches in Japan and then Singapore.
In Europe, the system will be launched Thursday in the U.K., France, Germany, Austria, Switzerland, Ireland, Italy and Spain, according to the software maker, although sales will likely be limited at best in Spain because of a lack of Spanish language support in the first edition of the system. At launch, the system will support English, French, German, Chinese (simplified and traditional), Korean and Japanese.
At around the same time, it will also be launched in South Africa.
The largest event of the day will take place several hours later in the U.S., where Microsoft Chairman and Chief Software Architect Bill Gates is expected to attend a launch event in New York. Across the border, the system will also be launched in Canada.
The day's events will end just over 24 hours after they began with launches in New Zealand and South Korea, according to Microsoft. A week later on Nov. 14 the system will be launched in Taiwan followed by Malaysia on Nov. 20 and India on Nov. 25. It will also be launched in late November in China.