The consumer tech industry is gearing up for what might be the biggest 10 days for gadgets in its recent history.

Three of the largest and most important tech companies in the world will all make huge announcements in the next few days, and what they unveil could shape the future of gadgets.

Apple, Microsoft and Google are among those readying new products, while the UK's first 4G network will also reach consumers for the first time.

On Tuesday Apple will hold an announcement in San Jose, California, where it is widely expected to unveil a smaller version of its best-selling iPad tablet.

The 'iPad Mini' as it is currently known looks set to have a 7.85-inch screen, Apple's new Lightning dock connector and be offered at a more affordable price than its larger, 9.7-inch iPad.

It is also rumoured that the current iPad could have a refresh, and that new laptops and desktop computers may also make an appearance.

Microsoft faces an even more important week, with the launch of both its next-generation Windows 8 operating system and the Surface tablet with which it hopes to finally match the iPad.

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Analysts have called both releases 'make or break' moments for the company, which otherwise has been a step behind in mobile since the iPod first made digital media players mainstream for the first time.

The company will hold an event on Thursday to discuss news about the Surface and other Windows 8 devices, and the OS itself will go on sale on Friday.

On Monday 29 October Google will hold its own event to launch new Nexus mobile phones and possibly new tablets, featuring a new 4.2 update of its market-leading Android operating system.

The Next Web has reported that Google will release a 32GB version of its Nexus 7 tablet at the event, as well as a Samsung-developed 10-inch device.

An LG-made Nexus phone will also be released, likely named the LG Nexus 4. Its event is taglined 'The playground is open', and after its recent stock price debacle - in which Google's earnings were released early to the consternation of the market - it will be hoping the world likes its new toys.

Also on Monday 29 October Microsoft will hold another event to fully unveil Windows Phone 8, its next mobile operating system which has been widely trailed but about which some key details are still missing.

Then on Tuesday EE will unveil the UK's first 4G network.

The new service, which offers mobile download speeds about five times as fast as most 3G service, will likely be sold at a premium to early adopters - and will be followed in 2013 by 4G services from other networks, after a sale of newly-available spectrum.

Meanwhile Facebook, Apple and several other big tech companies are set to release their third quarter earnings results, after Microsoft and Google's own disappointing reports.