Windows 8 previewed by Microsoft

Microsoft product marketing director Jensen Harris demonstrates Windows 8's features in a company promotional video.

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Microsoft has shown off early releases of the next version of Windows.

Demonstrations of Windows 8 running on tablets, phones and desktop computers were given at separate conferences in the US and Taiwan.

As expected, the software can be used via either traditional keyboard and mouse or by gestures on a gadget's touchscreen.

No date has been given for the release of Windows 8 but it is expected to be available before October 2012.

The start screen for Windows 8 seen at the demonstrations closely resembles the tiled layout seen on Microsoft's newest mobile operating system. The live tiles, that link to popular applications and data streams, can be manipulated via pressing on a screen.

The demo suggests that Windows 8 will have a unified look even though it will run on phones and tablets as well as portable and fixed computers.

The system has been designed first and foremost around touch and gesture, said Microsoft, but would also be manipulable by more traditional methods.

Despite rival Apple's success with its iPad tablet, Microsoft declared that it was not "out of the game" in that market.

The demos were given at the D9 conference in California and Computex in Taipei.

In a bid to speed up its efforts to get more tablets running Windows in the hands of consumers, Microsoft has reportedly demanded that hardware firms work with a single chip maker as they produce their gadgets.

Typically, laptop and notebook makers take chipsets from different suppliers as they build up a product range.

Firms expected to be producing chipsets for tablets include Qualcomm, Texas Instruments, Nvidia, Intel and others.

The news did not go down well with computer firms.

"This industry doesn't belong to Microsoft or Google, it belongs to all the participants," said Jim Wang, president of Acer, at a Computex press conference. "So they can't make the decision for all of us. That's the problem."

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