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Hot on the heels of its new Windows Phone-powered Lumia range, Nokia's next offering could be a Windows 8-based tablet, tagged for release next summer. A surprising date, but one that might just work.

Back in the Game?

Back in September, Microsoft showed off a host of devices running Windows 8 at its BUILD event. All were works in progress with no mention of a release date. Nokia seems to have let that particular cat out of the bag with the boss of Nokia France mentioning June 2012 as a release date for its Windows 8 tablet.

That could, of course, be plain wrong, it could be his own guess (previous Windows operating systems usually launch in October/November) or it could be that Microsoft really needs to get a wiggle on to halt the advance of the Android army and to challenge the dominance of Apple's iPad.

UPDATE: Nokia issued the usual “We haven’t announced any plans anywhere in the world at this point regarding a potential tablet strategy,” official PR comment, which is pretty much a yes in our book.

New Territory for Microsoft

The problem for Microsoft is that it used to only have to focus on the operating system, while its PC hardware partners ramped up their own hardware iterations on a long and well trodden marketing path. Windows 8 will see Microsoft having to coordinate with traditional PC, plus tablet and mobile companies (although so far there is no Windows 8 phone announced) in a far more complex global effort.

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Nokia, as Microsoft's new leading mobile partner could well be privy to more advanced information than others. Additionally, Dell is another key partner and back at Dell World in October, they also mentioned Windows 8 devices in the "near future."

So, with a summer date , Microsoft would be launching closer to the likely appearance of any iPad 3 and getting ahead of the big Fall release season. In the past couple of months we've seen the new iPhone, Android and Nokia's own phone releases plus many new tablets. Moving out of that window allows Microsoft some breathing space and gives it more spotlight for its new OS and family of devices

Windows 8 On Course?

Conjecture? Yes, but there are some valid arguments for getting out early. However, it all depends on the rather key point of Windows 8 being finished. Checking the developer blogs, recent articles point to the team focusing on fewer reboots after updates and the evermore important power efficiency.

That focus on improved user experience and catering to modern devices that need to sip power frugally from what are pretty miniscule battery packs, show Microsoft is on the case, but just how close to completion we won't know for a while. A formal public beta will be the next likely milestone and that will give us a better idea of the launch time-frame.

The more interesting question is what happens if Nokia enjoys massive sales of Windows 8 tablets and the Windows Phones fail to see massive market penetration, does Nokia become a computer company?