Today's Tech: ThinkPad celebrates 20th birthday, Microsoft developing Surface handset, Android 4.2 to launch on Optimus G Nexus?

After it reportedly blindsided hardware partners by announcing its ‘Surface’ line of tablets in June, Microsoft may be preparing to do the same thing with a self-produced smartphone. According to new rumours, the Redmond, Washington-based company is in the late stages of development of a Surface-branded handset that could be unveiled as early as the first half of 2013. Further details about hardware specs and a release schedule have not been reported, but "when compared to current WP8 hardware it's something unique,” one source said.

In more Microsoft news, the company today finalised its partnership with Barnes & Noble. The two firms closed a deal first teased in April and announced that their newly formed venture will be known as Nook Media. The deal adds a $300 million (£185 million) Microsoft investment to Barnes & Noble’s existing digital and college businesses, though there have so far been no details about what will come next. In exchange for its investment, Microsoft was awarded a 17.6 per cent stake in the book retailer. Follow the link for comments from both companies.

Elsewhere, Chinese manufacturer Cube has unveiled one of the world’s most impressive look-a-like devices to date - its 9.7in U9GT5 tablet. The slate boasts a Retina-like 2,048 x 1,536 pixel IPS display – the same quality as Apple’s third-generation iPad. It also features one of the largest batteries we’ve ever seen on a tablet – a 10,000mAh engine with a purported active run-time of some 10 hours – and a dual-core Cortex A9 processor. Of course, the U9GT5 is inferior to the new iPad in a number of ways – its 2-megapixel camera is an obvious downgrade from the 5-megapixel snapper sported by the genuine article – but it’s also more than half the price. Click on for more on the latest and greatest iClone.

The latest version of Google’s mobile operating system, Android 4.1 Jelly Bean, may only be deployed on a measly 1.2 per cent of eligible devices, but that doesn’t mean the wheels aren’t already in motion for the next incarnation of the software. In fact, multiple reports are already pinpointing a November release for Android version 4.2, with speculation pointing to a potential blockbuster rollout as part of a new Google Nexus-branded LG smartphone, the Optimus G Nexus. The device is question is a tweaked version of the Optimus G released by LG last month, and looks like a powerhouse specimen, so follow the link for the complete low down.

It's the ThinkPad's 20th birthday! So while you pull the party-poppers and crack open the bubbly, check out our timeline of the iconic laptop's journey through the ages. From the very outset way back in 1992 all the way to the present day, we've had that trademark red TrackPoint sitting in the middle of the sleek black body (which, by the way, was apparently inspired by the design of the Japanese 'bento box' used for takeaway lunches). For more intriguing facts like that and a host of images sure to take you down memory lane, follow the link above.

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