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Microsoft to unveil Windows 8 tablet

Next week a high-ranking Microsoft Corp executive will stand on stage and show off a new version of Windows on a tablet computer.

It won’t be the first time. Chief Executive Steve Ballmer did it last year. Co-founder Bill Gates did it 10 years ago.

This time, when Windows chief Steven Sinofsky shows off an early version of its next touch-enabled, tablet-friendly operating system — code-named Windows 8 — to independent developers at their annual conference in Anaheim next, there is a sense that it really matters.

“It’s a big deal,” said Todd Lowenstein, portfolio manager at HighMark Capital Management, which holds Microsoft shares.

“Investors are hungry to see how they are going to join where the market’s going. They’ve been lagging and they need to catch up and surpass what’s going on, to demonstrate they truly are an innovative company.”

Despite foretelling the tablet revolution a decade ago, Microsoft is last off the blocks with a salable device. The tablet PC Gates unveiled at the Comdex tech show in November 2001 was too clunky to catch on. The slick-looking Hewlett-Packard prototype slate brandished by Ballmer at the Consumer Electronics Show in 2010 did not even make it onto the shelves.

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