Microsoft's rumored tablet: what we know, what we're about to find out

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Next week is Microsoft's BUILD Conference (Sept 13-16) and it might be a good place to get some free swag, if the grapevine can be trusted.

Specifically I'm talking about a Samsung-manufactured tablet running a beta build of Windows 8. The source for the existence of such a device is the Korea Economic Daily, as reported by the Associated Free Press. In and of itself, Microsoft showing off a tablet running its latest OS isn't that much of a stretch.

But according to Thomas Ricker over at This is my next..., not only will Microsoft be unveiling this new tablet, they'll be giving them away to audience members. This is based on an earlier post by Johanna Stern who reported that Microsoft Enterprise Strategist Jeff Johnson showed New Zealand based TechEd conference attendees a “quad core Windows Slate that will be give(n) out at an upcoming Microsoft event.” So while this is starting to sound a little like a game of Telephone, the pieces seem to fit.

As to what's inside, it'll most likely be Nvidia's "Kal El" chipset; that's the quad core iteration of the Tegra line (As an aside, "Kal El" was Superman's Kryptonian name). Nvidia has stated that tablets based on Kal El will be hitting retail by the end of this year, so presumably early runs would be available for 'test' hardware to be given away to conference attendees. (Alternatively this might be one of those "We're going to send you one when they're ready!" give-aways.)

Further, at the same event where he announced Kal El-based hardware hitting retail this year, Nividia's Chief Executive Jen-Hsun Huang said that he believes that apps written for Windows Phone 7 will run under Windows 8; great news for Windows Phone 7 developers!

So taking all these bits and bobs and mashing them together, we're starting to see something really interesting coming out of Redmond; a tablet (though Microsoft seems to prefer the term 'Slate') built on a fast mobile processor that will run both your desktop and mobile applications. With Samsung — a company who obviously has some solid experience building tablets — onboard, we can have a high degree of confidence in the actual hardware. And with Microsoft seeding the developer community via a give-away at BUILD, we can anticipate a 2012 launch of the product with at least a basic software library ready to go.

Suddenly Microsoft has my attention; I'd more or less written off Windows Phone 7 and hadn't been paying all that much attention to Windows 8. Now I'm interested, and I can't wait to see what happens at the BUILD keynote next week.

Anyone with me?

Read more of Peter Smith's TechnoFile blog and follow the latest IT news at ITworld. Follow Peter on Twitter at @pasmith. For the latest IT news, analysis and how-tos, follow ITworld on Twitter and Facebook.

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