Steve Ballmer told the BBC: "Is it fair to say we're going to do more hardware? Obviously we are... Where we see important opportunities to set a new standard, yeah we'll dive in."

The chief executive's comments came ahead of a Windows 8 launch event in New York, following which Microsoft's Surface tablet will go on sale.

News other devices are likely to follow may worry some of the firm's partners.

Mr Ballmer caused a stir when he revealed in June that his company was making its own family of tablet computers

21st Century Distributing has announced plans for a "Reach For the Beach" Dealer Expo, which will take place Oct. 27 at the Kingston Plantation Resort in Myrtle Beach, S.C. 

Apple Inc. said Monday it would pay a dividend to shareholders and buy back up to $10 billion in stock, heeding calls for the technology heavyweight to deploy its massive cash pile.

The Cupertino, Calif., company expects to initiate a quarterly dividend of $2.65 a share in its fiscal fourth quarter, which begins July 1.

On a conference call Monday, Apple Chief Executive Tim Cook said that "these decisions will not close any doors for us," and that product innovation remained the company's priority.

Intel Corp plans to build a $5 billion, cutting-edge microchip factory in Arizona by 2013, sharply ramping up its U.S. manufacturing capacity as part of a major global expansion.

Construction should kick off in the middle of this year, it said in a statement. When completed, the plant will churn out next-generation 14-nanometer line-width transistors and microchip wafers of 300 millimeters.

Intel said in October it plans to spend $6 billion to $8 billion on high-tech manufacturing facilities in Arizona and Oregon, creating as many as 8,000 construction jobs

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