Computex 2012, the world's second-biggest computer show, is expected to showcase numerous innovations based on Microsoft's forthcoming Windows 8 operating system and Intel's trade-marked Ultrabook specification. This will include systems based on both Intel and ARM processors, and there is a vague possibility that one system will run both Windows 8 and Google Android, based on an extremely unspecific "teaser" video released by Asus.
It's not a coincidence that Microsoft has just unveiled its Windows 8 Release Preview, or that Intel has just unveiled low-voltage third-generation Ivy Bridge versions of its Core processors, targeted at Ultrabooks and other portables.
According to Intel, there are more than 110 Ultrabooks being developed, including more than 30 models with touch screens. There should also be at least one "transformer" that doubles as a tablet and a notebook PC. Asus has been successful with its Transformer range running Android, and this design is an obvious candidate for Windows 8. Microsoft's Steven Guggenheimer had been tipped to unveil the device during a talk on 6 June.
Intel has now expanded the specification of Ultrabooks to include either USB3 or Thunderbolt, anti-theft technology, and Intel Identity Protection technology. This uses to chip-level authentication to provide "a more secure online experience for activities like shopping, banking or gaming online".
The Computex line-up is expected to include tablets, convertibles, and systems that are similar to Ultrabooks but have larger screens. So far, most Ultrabooks have had screens of around 13.3 inches, whereas the 15.6 inch screen is by most popular format for consumer laptops, and 17.3 inch screens are not uncommon.
Ultrabooks had to be 18mm thick, or less, but Intel now says they can be up to 21mm thick for systems with 14 inch or larger screens.
Ultrabooks are relatively expensive -- they typically cost about twice as much as traditional PC designs -- which limits sales. The arrival of more hybrid disk drive designs, combining both Flash memory storage and a rotating hard drive, should help bring down prices somewhat. Later this year, Toshiba and Western Digital are expected to follow Samsung in launching 7mm hybrid drives, which I suggested would be a good idea last October (Hybrid drives threaten the emerging SSD market).
Computex is home ground for Taiwanese PC companies such as Acer, Asus and MSI, and most computer manufactures including Foxconn, Quanta, Compal and Wistron. It's where they want to show their new stuff, though it may not reach western markets until the year's final quarter.