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Microsoft plans June Windows 8 tablet tease?

Wall Street wonder wanted

Microsoft is planning a mid-year show-and-tell of its planned Windows 8 design for tablets, according to a report citing sources inside the company.

Business Insider reports that Microsoft will show off the new tablet-happy Windows by the end of its fiscal year in June. Window 8 for tablets will use concepts from the Windows Phone 7 interface, meaning you'll be able to poke and fondle the screen.

Microsoft would not comment on the news, saying it has nothing to share at the moment.

The fact Microsoft was planning a tablet-form factor for Windows 8 emerged thanks to some leaked slides from June 2010.

If the latest report is correct, it would add to a growing body of evidence that suggests we could be looking at early code in 2011 and actual products around the end of the year.

A testing and development roadmap recently uncovered by All About Microsoft's Mary-Jo Foley showed the Windows 8 milestone two build taking five months, with work beginning on a third milestone build on February 28. Assuming this also takes up to five months, then that would push Windows 8's milestone three into July. That's not June, but it's in the ballpark.

The time frame is significant. Microsoft holds its annual Financial Analysts Meeting (FAM) in July, after the close of its fiscal year, and at last year's event, chief executive Steve Ballmer was put on the spot by investors who wanted to see an answer to Apple's iPad.

Ballmer promised it was "job-one urgency" and that nobody was sleeping in order to deliver Windows fondleslabs with partners.

Microsoft will be raring to show Wall Street that after another year of work, there's been tangible progress. There's been barely a dribble of Windows slates into the market since last July, and it's starting to look like Android is the new problem, based on a recently leaked Dell roadmap.

That Dell roadmap, which you can see here, does two things. It gives an indication of when we can expect Windows 8 on tablets to hit the market - Dell's got a device codenamed Peju planed for January 2012 – and it reveals the magnitude of the coming Android threat. Google's operating system is pegged to land on eight fondlelabs from Dell during the coming 12 months.

Microsoft has quietly released early code for the version of Windows that was once its favored child for embedded devices, such as tablets. Windows Embedded Compact 7 has been released for evaluation - you can play with the toolkit for 180 days. There was no word from Microsoft on when Windows Embedded Compact 7 - formerly Windows Compact Edition (Windows CE) - will be finished.

Features include the ability to build and use multi-touch interfaces, support for Silverlight for Embedded that lets you build XAML and native C++ interfaces free of the standard Windows look and feel. There's also a new version of Internet Explorer that's based on versions seven and eight of IE, and there's support for Adobe's Flash 10.1 and ARM v7New developer and designer tools. ®

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