Microsoft plans to introduce new Windows-powered tablet computers and smartphopnes this fall, designed to compete with Apple's and and Android-based products.
At the company's 2010 financial analyst meeting, Microsoft CEO steve Ballmer said that the new tablets would be available as soon as they were ready to ship and phones would be on the market this autumn.
"..We've got to make things happen with Windows 7 on slates. And we are in the process of doing that as we speak. We're working with our hardware partners, we're tuning Windows 7 to new slate hardware designs that they're bringing them to market.." Ballmer said.
Microsoft's hardware parners include Acer, Dell and Toshiba.
A 'slate' essentially represents a brand new product category that sits between smartphones and netbooks. Slates are thin, light, touch-enabled multimedia devices with a screen size somewhere between 6 and 10-inches.
"..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 added.
Ballmer decribed the new tablets or slates as "devices that is screen and keyboard that spins around for inking purposes."
"..We've got a push right now -- right now -- with our hardware partners," Ballmer said. However, he did not give an exact release date for the new devices. They will be available "as soon as they're ready," he said.
Ballmer also talked about Intel's upcoming Oak trail processors.
"We'll get a boost sometime after the new year when Intel brings its new Oak Trail processor to market. Oak Trail is designed to be lower power. Lower power is good in a lot of ways. It leads to longer battery life, no fan, lower kind of noise levels, a lot of less weight -- a lot of things that people like. And as focused as we are on this category, our partners are also focused in on delivering the systems and the chips that will enable kind of our architecture to continue and our software product to continue to move on," he said.
He added that Microsoft's investments in "touch" and "ink" technologies will both find their way to new slates s coming the next months and beyond.
Micrsoft also plans to ship and new Windows 7 phones this autumn. No handset makers have announced a date for commercial launch.
Microsoft employees showed off the new prototype phones running Windows Phone 7, made by handset makers Samsung and LG. The devices have large touch screens, incorporate a Zune music player, e-mail programs and link up with content from Xbox Live, Facebook, and other networks.
Samsung is also planning to introduce tablet computers this quarter but they will be based on Google's Android operating system, joining the list of firms seeking to challenge Apple's popular iPad. The device will have a 7-inch display, smaller than the 9.7-inch screen on the iPad.
Handset vendors and PC makers including Nokia, LG Electronics and Hewlett-Packard Co are also moving into the new category of devices.
LG Electronics also plans to introduce tablets or slate devices running on Android in the fourth quarter.