Microsoft (NSDQ:MSFT) is reportedly set to show off next week a version of the Windows operating system with a touch-screen interface designed for tablet computers.

Demonstration of such a product would be a major milestone for Microsoft, which has been absent from the fast-growing tablet computer arena that’s dominated by Apple’s iPad. It would also provide substance to months of rumors and speculation about just how and when Microsoft would get into the tablet market.

 

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A story from the Bloomberg news service said Microsoft would demonstrate the derivative of Windows next week at both the All Things D conference in Rancho Palos Verdes, Calif., and the Computex show in Taipei, Taiwan. Windows president Steven Sinofsky is scheduled to speak at All Things D, which begins Tuesday, while Steve Guggenheimer, corporate vice president of Microsoft’s original equipment manufacturer division, will address the Computex show on Wednesday.

The story said the Microsoft executives would be demonstrating a touch-screen version of Windows running on hardware using Nvidia’s Tegra microprocessor, which is based on ARM’s architecture. The story also quoted sources as saying the mobile operating system won’t be generally available until next year.

Last week Microsoft and Intel became embroiled in a dispute when an Intel (NSDQ:INTC) executive said Microsoft is developing multiple versions of its next-generation desktop operating system to run on ARM microprocessors developed by Nvidia, Qualcomm and Texas Instruments.

Microsoft called those statements “factually inaccurate and unfortunately misleading,” without specifying how.

This week, in a speech before the Microsoft Developer Forum in Japan, CEO Steve Ballmer said the next release of Windows would have a “brand new interface.

“We’ve added touch, and ink, and speech. And yet, as we look forward to the next generation of Windows systems, which will come out next year, there’s a whole lot more coming. As we progress through the year, you ought to expect to hear a lot about Windows 8. Windows 8 slates, tablets, PCs, a variety of different form factors,” Ballmer said, according to a copy of his speech posted on a Microsoft Web site.

Microsoft later issued a statement backing off from Ballmer’s Windows 8 references.