[caption id="attachment_45903" align="alignleft" width="150" caption="Windows 8 could spawn a new breed of hybrid machines."][/caption]

Microsoft is scrambling to preserve what's left of its kingdom, and it’s pinning its hopes on a new version of Windows that could spawn a new breed of hybrid machines: part tablet computer, part laptop.

Since the company released its Windows operating system in 1985, most of the sequels have been variations on the same theme. Not that it mattered much. Regardless of the software's quality, Microsoft managed to remain at the center of the personal computing universe.

The stakes are...

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