At the 2011 Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, Microsoft is expected to present new slates, the company' tablets PCs, which it hopes will offer some competition to the Apple iPad.
Steve Ballmer, Microsoft?s chief executive, is expected to announce a number of these devices when he takes the stage at CES, showcasing devices built by Samsung and Dell.
According to reports, the slates will have the size of Apple's iPad, although they will not be as thin. They will also include a keyboard that slides out from below. The devices are expected to run the Windows 7 operating system.
Slates are also expected to run applications developed by third-party developers. The apps will be based on the new HTML5 the Web programming language and will be directly available from the developer's web sites and not a single app store, a model followed by Apple.
Other more optimistic reports are also speculating that
Steve Ballmer might demonstrate a tablet and other companion devices running the next operating system, Windows 8.
Steve Balmer had already hinted the release of Windows-powered tablet computers and smartphopnes designed to compete with Apple's and and Android-based products last July, at
at Microsoft's 2010 financial analyst meeting.
"..And, yeah, you're going to get a lot of cacophony. There will be people who do things with other operating systems. But we've got the application base, we've got the user familiarity. We've got everything on our side if we do things really right." Ballmer had said. He had also decribed the new tablets or slates as "devices that is screen and keyboard that spins around for inking purposes."
At Microsoft's Worldwide Partner Conference 2010 that was held Washington last July, Ballmer again touted new tablet-style devices running the Windows 7 operating system from about 20 manufacturers.
These small, hand-held, wireless computers would be introduced from Acer, Dell, Samsung, Toshiba and Sony, as well as from other PC makers, Ballmer said.
"This year, one of the most important things that we will do in the smart device category is really push forward with Windows 7-based slates," said Ballmer. "This is a terribly important area for us."
"They'll come with keyboards, they'll come without keyboards, they'll be dockable, there'll be many form factors, many price points, many sizes," he said. "But they will all run Windows 7. They will run Windows 7 applications. They will run Office."