Instead of unveiling an elegant response to the iPad, Microsoft came to the tech industry’s premier gadget show with a collection of exposed computer guts, the Associated Press reports. Microsoft’s biggest news was that the next version of Windows would run on the style of cell phone chips that power the iPad and other tablets today. It proved it with a series of demonstrations on half-built computers; on the monitors hooked up to those machines, the software was indistinguishable from the current Windows 7. Microsoft’s missing tablet served as a reminder that the world’s largest software maker remains years from a serious entry into this new category of devices. It also raised more doubts about whether Microsoft Corp. will ever be able to grab a meaningful piece of this fast-growing segment. If it can’t, Microsoft Corp.’s dominance of personal computers may become increasingly irrelevant as people embrace ever-sleeker portable devices…

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staff and wire services reports