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Microsoft resurrects its PC hardware conference as Windows 9 looms

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Time to make the hardware makers happy

Microsoft is bringing its Windows Hardware Engineering Conference (WinHEC) back, just as the software maker is preparing a significant refresh of its Windows operating system. It’s still the same old WinHEC name, but the acronym now stands for Windows Hardware Engineering Community and there will be a series of events aimed at hardware makers. Microsoft last held its WinHEC conference in 2008, and the new show will debut on March 18th 2015 in Shenzhen, China. The location may seem unusual, but it’s the ideal place for Microsoft to reach hardware makers and engineers as it prepares to launch Windows 9, currently codenamed Windows Threshold.

Microsoft is serious about working more closely with PC makers

WinHEC has been used over the years to detail a number of hardware-related changes to the Windows operating system. During the Windows Vista (codenamed Longhorn) era, Microsoft regularly demonstrated new and upcoming features of the OS at WinHEC that required more powerful graphics cards. Microsoft is currently planning to overhaul Windows 9 to focus on the desktop and improve the overall UI of the traditional part of Windows. While Microsoft may have alienated some PC makers with its own Surface hardware during the Windows 8 development, and its strict rules on Windows RT hardware, the relaunch of WinHEC is a clear sign the company is serious about working more closely with the hardware community going forwards.

On Tuesday Microsoft is planning to demonstrate a "Windows Technical Preview" of codename Windows Threshold, before releasing the preview to developers and enterprise customers in early October. Microsoft is expected to name Windows Threshold as Windows 9 once it’s ready next year, but the company may also opt for an entirely new name or simply just Windows. Microsoft is also readying a combined version of Windows RT and Windows Phone, with a preview expected in January.