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Microsoft chief executive Steve Ballmer promised the world Windows tablets at last year's CES, but thus far has failed to deliver. Speaking to an audience Tuesday, he promised that they would see Windows tablets by Christmas.  (Source: Reuters)
"You'll see new slates with Windows on them. You'll see them this Christmas." -- Steve Ballmer

One of the technology industry's big Steves -- Steve Ballmer, Chief Executive of Microsoft -- on Tuesday promised that Windows tablets won't take much longer to hit the market and compete with Apple's popular iPad and upcoming Google Android/Chrome OS tablets.  He remarked, "You'll see new slates with Windows on them. You'll see them this Christmas."

Of course "see them this Christmas" could have a variety of meanings -- anything from "see them" as be unwrapping them, or "see them" as in reading an online press release that they will be available in March.

Google and its hardware partners has been a bit slow responding to the tablet craze.  They only recently have aired 5-inch (Dell Streak) and 7-inch (Dell Streak, Samsung Galaxy Tab) designs, and are still awaiting full-sized 10-inch tablets, comparable in size to the iPad.

Microsoft, however, has been even more lackadaisical in pursuing this lucrative market.  The company showed off a slew of tablets at a presentation attended by DailyTech at this year's Consumer Electronics Show, yet has failed to deliver a single Windows tablet from a major player. 

HP, the world's largest personal computer maker, was reportedly close to releasing designs like the HP Slate this spring, but has shelved those plans, instead focusing on webOS tablets.  WebOS is a product of Palm, which HP acquired earlier this year.

Meanwhile July's numbers indicate that Apple is unloading at least 2.3 million iPads a month.  If it can sustain that sales pace (which seems likely due to holiday demand and lack of competitors), it's on the mark to hit anywhere from 15 to 20 million tablets sold this year.

Mr. Ballmer also hit on one of Microsoft other key problem spots -- the mobile phone market.  Microsoft's Kin project was a colossal sales failure perpetrated by miserably outdated hardware, bizarre commercials that bordered on disturbing, and a lack of carrier support.  At the end of the day Microsoft pulled the plug.

Meanwhile, Microsoft's veteran Windows Mobile brand has languished, bleeding market share to Apple and Google.  Microsoft's answer is a brand-new smart phone operating system dubbed Windows Phone 7, which will air October 11th.

Mr. Ballmer addressed his company's challenging state of affairs in this sector, summarizing, "The job right now is we've got to get back seriously into the game of phonesWe've got to have a comeback against the competition and I think with our new Windows phones we really have a beautiful product."

WP7 faces an uphill battle when it hits the market, but Microsoft's CEO seems to realize that.  At least he can take comfort that he will quite possibly be putting some in peoples' Christmas stocking...even if that something isn't a Windows tablet.


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RE: What version of Windows
By Mitch101 on 10/6/2010 4:14:36 PM , Rating: 2
Im Hoping full blown Windows 7 but I could see a mobile port before full blown.

CPU/GPU's that are plenty powerful enough for full blown OS with low power are right around the corner. The 18w AMD fusion dual cores or the 9W Single core fusion chip could make for a nice device but I think they are slated for 1Q 2011. Give it blutooth and get it near a keyboard and mouse for a tablet that acts like a netbook when needed.


RE: What version of Windows
By ncage on 10/6/2010 5:02:29 PM , Rating: 2
I think your probably one of the few. If you want to have to run AV + have crappy battery life then Windows 7 it is. On top of that Windows 7 interface (start button) isn't that great for tablets. You can't just shrink an OS down to fit every form factor.WP7 would be awesome on a tablet, but to be honest with you, i think you will get your wish and windows 7 will be on the tablets. They don't have the time (i think) to make WP7 tablets by Christmas. They are trying enough already to just make WP7 as perfect as it can be so it will compete. In the meantime i already have a IPad until microsoft / google produces something that impresses me.


RE: What version of Windows
By acer905 on 10/6/2010 5:41:58 PM , Rating: 3
Well, I may also be one of the few, but i agree with him. A device that effectively replaces netbooks or even notebooks must be able to both view content, and create content. A full OS would be able to do such, when paired with proper accessories. It is rather easy to create an "app" skin, which increases the usefulness of a touch screen, such as the Media Center interface.

(Or, use any of the existing "10 Foot Interface" setups that exist. These, being optomized for viewing from a distance and using a remote control, already have larger icons and more distinct text than the standard desktop environment.)

Add an overlay to the full OS desktop for touch interface, while leaving all of the functionality that Bluetooth accessories can use, and a winning device is created.


RE: What version of Windows
By Akrovah on 10/6/2010 7:21:51 PM , Rating: 3
I am also one of those "few." In fact, my wife and I were just talking last week about wanting some kind of lightweight easily portable screen that maintained the functionality of a full desktop system without the hassle of a laptop setup. Basically the iPad without the limitations. Full Windows tablets would be perfect for this, and since the idea was home use we would never be far away from a charging port if need be.


RE: What version of Windows
By superPC on 10/6/2010 7:49:44 PM , Rating: 2
most tech inclined people would agree to you guys. a good interface is all windows 7 need to be a good tablet. something like exopc UI or other even better. problem is most of the manufacturer have their own UI. dell, HP, fujitsu, MSI, asus all will release tablet soon and they all have their own UI. this is a problem and i hope MS release a touch UI of their own with great usability and animation (we all know most of what makes ipad look fast is its sleek animation).


RE: What version of Windows
By theprofessor on 10/6/2010 9:23:41 PM , Rating: 2
Microsoft already has this. They created it for the Origami project.


RE: What version of Windows
By vol7ron on 10/6/2010 10:09:05 PM , Rating: 2
I think I agree with the above. I'd like a W7 touch device, it just needs a few tweaks and a better form factor.

I don't get why people argue the Start menu - I like it. More importantly, you get to customize the taskbar and desktop to how you like it... If you want it to act like a iPhone, just make a bunch of shortcuts to all your programs and put them on the desktop... enough said.

That being said, I think some tweaks might be to make the Start menu larger for fingers, and to possibly add some desktop scrolling (any direction, not just side-to-side). Additionally, it doesn't have to be the full OS. It can be W7L (Win7 Lite); an extreme stripped down version, that is still fully compatible with other devices.

Will Microsoft please get the hardware manuf. to include an IR sensor for my TV/DVD/Computer!?


RE: What version of Windows
By OUits on 10/6/2010 11:43:21 PM , Rating: 2
I'm in this boat too. I've never owned a smartphone, but would be interested in getting a tablet. I'm guessing that a lot of people are in a similar situation, and full blown W7 is what a lot of people have and are already used to. Screw a phone OS if I have the option.


RE: What version of Windows
By Belard on 10/7/2010 5:39:27 AM , Rating: 2
Just gone from just a regular cell-Phone (slider, 2.5" screen - I did voice and texting) to an Android by Samsung.

Overall, it totally murders any previous phone in the past... and I've had it for only a few days. Everything it does, is better than my last phone.

A tablet/pad device is not a phone. Even Apple and Google had to modify their OS to work better for a larger device. As good as Win7 is, its NOT made for a 7" gesture screen. Try for yourself, set your screen res to 800x600 and use that for a week... without a keyboard... so use the on-screen keyboard.

A tablet will not do you much good away from home. A smart phone will.


By therealnickdanger on 10/7/2010 9:47:50 AM , Rating: 3
Better advice:

Go to Best Buy and get your hands on an HP Touchsmart laptop or desktop all-in-one. See for yourself how a Windows 7 tablet would perform. Also keep in mind the bloatware factor...

The biggest advantage that smartphones and the iPad have is the quality of the screen itself. Almost every touch laptop/desktop I've seen over the years, since the dawn of XP Tablet Edition, has been junk. Thick layers that cause a perception of separation between what you see and what you touch. Often times, the resistive or capacitive layer itself is visible, creating a grainy and washed out visual effect. Not only that, but the screens usually aren't glass, so they flex and bend too much or your touch input registers somewhere else on the screen.

An ideal Windows 7 tablet won't be cheap as it will NEED certain components in order to feel smooth to the end user:

Core 2 Duo ULV with Optimus or Core i3 UM (ULV) as a minimum for CPU. Atom, Celeron, and the Pentiums with their IGPs lack the CPU/GPUmuscle to handle HD video or HD Flash, plus they are just less efficient overall than the C2D/i3/i5 ULVs. It's possible that an Atom w/ION could work... but not nearly as well. Games?

SSD. In order to have that Android/iOS app-like experience with full-blown applications, a fast SSD is mandatory no matter what CPU is used.

Touch drivers are crucial. Bad drivers for touchpads can make all the difference in the world. If an entire screen can't be calibrated properly, then the whole process is just a waste.

Gorilla glass or equivalent touch surface.

I don't see any OEM selling a tablet with the above features for less than $900. But we all know that they will try to make Windows 7 tablets using Atom processors in order to get down to the iPad pricing. Without stripping away unneeded processes and bloatware (haha, yeah right!) and building low-resource overlay, there's no way an Atom-based tablet will be "good enough" when compared to the iPad.


RE: What version of Windows
By superPC on 10/7/2010 12:08:53 AM , Rating: 2
by origami did you mean this http://www.microsoft.com/windows/products/winfamil... ? looks like it was based on windows media center (in windows vista). it's not pretty, but i think it's functional. downloading it now (from http://www.microsoft.com/downloads/en/details.aspx... ) and hoping it work on windows 7. i don't get it. why did they abandon this? if they give such care to WMC why the hell didn't they do the same for origami experience? didn’t they think tablet market would grow? microsoft really is years ahead of the competitions. they build origami experience waaayyy back in 2007 months before ipod touch was even launched.

i think building with origami as a base they can make a really great touch UI.


RE: What version of Windows
By theprofessor on 10/7/2010 4:30:47 PM , Rating: 2
You might still be able to buy an UMPC (I think Samsung and Sony may have one for sale). They were never a big seller, mostly because of price. Even though Microsoft tried hard to get the OEMs to release them in the $500 - $800 range (similar to the iPad), they all cost $1000 - $2000, well above what the average consumer was willing to spend. My hope is, that with newer low cost technology and the proof to OEMs that you can make money at a lower price point, that this project is continued. Version 3 built off of this base could be really good.

And if you think that it's impressive that they released this in 2007, this is actually Version 2, based on Vista. They had version 1 for XP at least a year before this. And Microsoft has been talking about the idea of a full Windows tablet since 2000 when they began work on what became Windows XP Tablet PC Edition. That was released in 2002, but is really better suited for a different market (professionals and students).


RE: What version of Windows
By superPC on 10/7/2010 12:10:42 AM , Rating: 2
OH btw kudos for still remembering about origami experience after all this years. i bet even some microsoft people had already forgotten about it. i certainly had forgot.


RE: What version of Windows
By theprofessor on 10/7/2010 4:31:31 PM , Rating: 2
Thanks :).

Yeah, I'm sure a lot of people forgot about it.


RE: What version of Windows
By robinthakur on 10/7/2010 11:52:29 AM , Rating: 2
This has been tried before many times and they don't generally sell. The question that has to be asked is whether the form factor was the problem, i.e. heavy and bulky with jutting out batteries or the price, or in this case the OS. Obviously a combination of all three have killed the idea of a windows tablet stone dead, even without Apple's runaway success, not just to the buying public, but seemingly to the industry as a whole. Hence the lack of such a specimen so far appearing on the market post iPad. Manufactureres have been burned by this many times before.

I used to think having a full Windows experience on a tiny mobile device like a phone was the holy grail of mobile computing back in the early 90's world of Palm Pilots and Newtons. I thought this way until technology progressed enough to make this a possibility with WiMo and the original Tablet PC's. Whilst in their heydays, there was no competition in terms of OS, i.e. nothing better, the benefit of having all the same applications on identical devices with smaller form factors results in iStrain and frustration, notwithstanding the important consideration that most Apps are not designed for touch operation and the best you can hope for is a direct finger-as-cursor replacement. MS's interface for Media Centre is a good example of MS putting in a proper interface because they realised the standard start menu interface was not a one-size fits all solution! In this regard Apple's use of touch was the first time touch control was implemented on a device correctly (or at least, the best so far)

Putting a full desktop version of an OS on a slate is a bad idea. Bad battery utilisation versus horsepower required, no mobile aware applications (unless everything is delivered through silverlight etc) and despite being touch enabled by default, touch is NOT central to Windows 7 in the way that it is central to iOS and other mobile OS's. It is a 'nice to have'. You also have to have a 'mobile touch profile' which is easy to enable for OEM's, pre-customised and tweaked so that when it gets to the customer it just works. As obvious as it sounds, this is rarely the case.

You also have the weight of the public's newly advanced expectations to deal with. The only successful slate is the iPad so far, so the expectation from the public is that a tablet PC will be simple to operate, be always on and wake within half a second, have long battery life, will be virus free, aesthically designed, have an Appstore and have cool animations. If this list seems Apple-centric and the very antithesis of Windows, that is natural because Apple have set the standard in this new space. There are no wasted App icons, no "subscribe to AOL" widgets and clutter, everything serves a purpose.

The key is to sell the Tablet PC as a commodity appliance which is a best-fit solution to as many people as possible particularly business, which should not be a colossal challenge given that MS are still at the centre of that universe...


RE: What version of Windows
By rudy on 10/6/2010 9:54:45 PM , Rating: 2
So you are saying that phone based OS do not need antivirus?

Just because people do not know they have viruses or can get them does not mean you do not need antivirus.

If you disable a couple features in a full blown OS like windows 7 and you do not execute any attachment you get from a forward you wont need antivirus for that either.


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