Hewlett-Packard Co., the world’s largest maker of personal computers, plans to unveil a line of touch-screen laptops running Microsoft Corp.’s new Windows 8 software, including one model that can convert into a tablet.

The new machines, Hewlett-Packard’s first to offer the latest version of Microsoft’s flagship operating system, will include the Spectre TouchSmart Ultrabook with a 15.6-inch high- definition screen, and the Envy x2, which features a detachable touch screen on a magnetic hinge, the Palo Alto, California- based company said in a statement.

Hewlett-Packard and other PC makers are racing to come up with innovative designs that can persuade computer buyers to opt for Windows machines rather than Apple Inc. ’s iPad tablet or laptops. Apple’s sales of MacBook laptops and desktop Macs rose in the second quarter, accounting for 12 percent of PC shipments in the U.S., compared with 25 percent for Hewlett-Packard and 21.7 percent for Dell Inc., according to researcher Gartner Inc.

Windows 8, which will be available in October, features a redesigned user interface that makes it more adaptable for tablet computers, an effort to chip away at the dominance of Apple’s iPad. The new software will also include touch-screen capabilities for more traditional PCs.

PC makers also will be competing with Microsoft, which plans to sell its own Windows 8-based tablet called Surface that includes an attachable keyboard. Hewlett-Packard plans to deliver a Windows 8 tablet for businesses by early next year.

Holiday Season

The company’s Spectre TouchSmart Ultrabook will be available in the U.S. in December, starting at $1,400. The Envy x2, which will be available “late” in the holiday season, will sell for $800 to $900, Hewlett-Packard Vice President Fredrik Hamberger said in an interview. Its screen separates from the keyboard to become a tablet computer that weighs 1.5 pounds, he said.

The Envy TouchSmart Ultrabook 4 includes a 14-inch touch- screen high-definition display and will also ship in time for the U.S. holiday season. The company hasn’t set pricing yet.

Ultrabooks are a class of thin laptops that hew to Intel Corp. (INTC) performance and battery-life requirements. All three of the new machines run on Intel chips.

Hewlett-Packard shares rose less than 1 percent to $16.94 at yesterday’s close in New York. The stock has declined 34 percent this year.

Source: Bloomberg