Let the Windows 8 hardware rumours begin.

According to Notebook Italia, Asus is eyeing Windows 8 for the next version of its Eee Pad Transformer, a tablet with an optional keyboard and trackpad dock that props the device up like a netbook.

The new model will reportedly launch in 2012, alongside a sequel to the Android version that launched in late April. Both models should be thinner and lighter than the current Eee Pad, and while the Android version will reportedly cost the same as the first generation Eee Pad, the Windows version will be pricier.

The Eee Pad Transformer seems like a perfect fit for Microsoft's Windows 8 intentions. The operating system will have a tile-based interface designed for touchscreens, with apps created in HTML 5 and Javascript. The interface will be navigated with finger swipes, and users will be able to drag apps in from the bezel and run two apps side-by-side.

But beneath that touch-based UI will be plain old Windows, with apps and an interface that are best suited for a mouse and keyboard. That's where a device like the Eee Pad Transformer will be useful.

Its trackpad and physical keyboard will allow users to run legacy apps and get some work done, while the detachable tablet will allow for more leisurely uses, such as surfing the web or reading ebooks.