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Microsoft shows off Windows 8 for tablets

Microsoft pulled back the curtain on new Windows computer operating software designed to power not only personal computers but also rivals to Apple’s iPad.

Windows division president Steven Sinofsky stressed touchscreen tablets as he boasted of the diverse types of hardware that Windows 8 will run after its official release.

Sinofsky was part of a Microsoft team that provided an in-depth look at Windows 8 to software developers at a BUILD conference the US technology giant is holding this week in southern California.

“We re-imagined Windows,” Sinofsky said. “From the chipset to the user experience, Windows 8 brings a new range of capabilities without compromise.”

Windows 8 was crafted to allow all kinds of computers to be controlled with taps or swipes of screens, gestures familiar to owners of smartphones or tablet computers.

The operating system was also designed to let separate applications work together and to synchronize files across various Windows 8 devices.

Sinofsky demonstrated the point by having a picture taken on a camera-enabled desktop computer pop up on a tablet.

“Windows 8 works beautifully across a spectrum of devices, from 10-inch tablets and laptops to all-in-ones with 27-inch high-definition screens,” Microsoft said.

Windows 8 was shaping up to be Microsoft’s answer to criticism that it had ceded the tablet computer space to Google’s Android platform and Apple, which has dominated a market it ignited with the release of the iPad.

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“It is a blend, a hybrid, that attempts to give a person the advantages of an iPad and the advantages of a Macbook Air (Apple laptop) in a single device,” said analyst Rob Enderle of Enderle Group in Silicon Valley.

“This is going to be interesting,” he continued. “The hardware optimizing it will likely be some touch-enabled ultrabook.”

Microsoft was so eager to get independent developers working on applications for Windows 8 that it gave tablet computer prototypes to each of the 5,000 BUILD attendees so they could begin tinkering with the software.

The week-long gathering will be crammed with sessions at which developers will be tutored in nuances of building applications for Windows 8.

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