Microsoft Offers Windows 8 Preview, Free Tablet PCs For Build Conference Attendees

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Microsoft and Samsung have co-developed a Windows-8 based tablet PC that Microsoft is handing out to the 5,000 developer attendees at the company's Build developer conference in Anaheim, Calif., this week.

In a series of keynote speeches Tuesday Microsoft unveiled Windows 8's full development capabilities before an enthusiastic audience. That comes after weeks of dribbling out bits of information about of the nascent desktop operating system in a "Building Windows 8" blog.

Microsoft, however, did not disclose a target date for making Windows 8 generally available, a date widely expected sometime in 2012. "We're going to be driven by the quality, not a date," said Steven Sinofsky, Windows and Windows Live division president.

The unnamed Samsung tablet uses a 2nd generation Intel Core i5 microprocessor and has 4 GB of memory and 64 GB of solid state disk, said Michael Angiulo, Corp. vice president of Windows planning and ecosystem, while demonstrating Windows 8 running on a broad range of hardware devices. The device uses an 11.6-diagonal Samsung Super PLS display and will come with one year of AT&T 3G service.

Holding up the Samsung device, Angiulo said to wild applause: "I've been told it's impolite not to share, so I've got 5,000 in a warehouse nearby."

"It's a machine for developers," Sinofsky said, casually dressed onstage in jeans and a gray sweatshirt. "It's a real way to experience the preview of Windows 8 on hardware that's preview as well."

Reports of a Samsung Windows 8-based tablet began leaking out last week. But Microsoft and Samsung made no announcement Tuesday about if and when the tablet device might be commercially available.

Angiulo also showed Windows 8 running on what he described as an unannounced "Ultrabook" laptop computer developed by Intel, a reference hardware system based on Qualcomm's Snapdragon ARM chip, a new Toshiba ultra-thin laptop, and a system with Epic water-cooled graphics processors and 4.7 teraflops of computing power.

While Windows 8 isn't expected until sometime in 2012, Sinofsky made clear this marked the new operating system's formal debut. "It's a launch," Sinofsky said early in the keynote. "We're launching a new opportunity for developers," he said. "Every Windows 8 PC is your potential customer."

Before Tuesday, Microsoft had released only limited information about Windows 8, including planned support for desktop virtualization. Microsoft did show off some of what the company calls Windows 8's "Metro-style" user interface at an industry conference in June.

Next: What's In Windows 8 For Developers

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