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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  Microsoft's Kin project was a colossal sales failure perpetrated by miserably outdated hardware, bizarre commercials that bordered on disturbing, and a lack of carrier support.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: Brace yourselves
By JakLee on 10/6/2010 5:15:57 PM , Rating: 2

From the reviews it is "portable" as long as there are enough of you to carry it. Microsoft expects their next tablet to 5% smaller and 12% faster.
I think I might stick with my kindle and smartphone a little bit longer.

RE: Brace yourselves
By theprofessor on 10/6/2010 9:36:12 PM , Rating: 2
Uhh...Micorsoft has been making a Tablet OS that OEMs have been selling on tablet computers for eight years. They are mostly used by professionals and students though. They also have a more consumer oriented version known as the Ultra-Mobile PC. These are all fully functional computers. The problem is/was that OEMs priced them out of reach for normal consumers ($1000 - $2000) even though Microsoft tried hard to have OEMs price them in the $500 range.

Microsoft has been designing tablets and the OSs that run on them for over a decade and was one of the initial companies to push the idea. Now, that technology has advanced and OEMs see that money can be made with lower priced devices, I wouldn't count Microsoft out.

RE: Brace yourselves
By Belard on 10/7/2010 6:12:16 AM , Rating: 2
The MS Tablets were only useful in some fields... such as hospitals and such, but I've seem them go back to notebooks. The convertible tablets are a pain in the rear. They are heavy, not powerful, not fast, expensive, easy to break, harder to service. We had two in our company and we traded them in for normal ThinkPads.

Why MS Failed where Apple kicked MS in the nuts:
- Full blown OS, bloated.
- Stylus was typical for operations... lose it, your screwed.
- price! A ThinkPad X201 with i5 CPU starts at $1500. iPad is $500~800.

- weight! iPad = 1.5lbs. The Thinkpad x201 is 3.5 lbs! Thats with a 4cell battery, not including the power brick. 4.5lbs with 8cell.

- Battery life, 10hrs vs about 3hrs for a PC-Tablet.

- Size... iPad is half an inch thick... vs. 1~1.5" for PC tablets.

Functionality... iPad is far more useful to consumers. Tablet PCs have a place, but its very limited. Even Netbooks far outsell Tablets. And we can expect future iPAD clones to eat into notebook and netbook computer sales.

My 4" Android screen is NOTHING compared to my 24" desktop display... but its very functional for my needs with GPS and internet.

The ThinkPad maybe the last tablet-PC on the market, I bet nobody will be making them in 2011.

RE: Brace yourselves
By theprofessor on 10/7/2010 6:54:27 PM , Rating: 2
I've had a Tablet PC since they came out in 2002. I don't work in a hospital and I find it very useful. I don't think your points about the convertible tablets are true, not compared to similar sized notebooks. Most 10 to 12 inch notes, convertible tablets or not, have similar specs, performance, price, etc.

As for your points:
-yes, a full blown OS is bigger, but it's also more functional. That was Microsoft’s idea, give these devices the same (or more) functionality as PCs. The original Tablet PC was based on Windows XP which has about a half a gigabyte install.
-Some Tablet PCs didn't require a stylus. If you prefer, you could get one of those. Also ,the UMPC was not based on using a stylus, though I think a few did use them. Again, if you prefer, get one that doesn't need it.
-You're comparing a full convertible laptop to the iPad. Do you know the performance difference between these two devices? Also, regarding price, what about UMPCs as I mentioned in my previous post? They compare more favorably to the iPad, especially because they are targeted at the same market. They were more expensive ($1000+), but that wasn’t Microsoft’s fault as they constantly pushed OEMs to price them at $500-$800. Eventually, you were able to get lower end models for $800+.
-Again, you're comparing a full convertible laptop to a tablet. This is unfair. At release, in 2002, NEC had a 2 pound 10 inch fully functional Windows XP Tablet PC. I'm not sure about the size of the battery. UMPCs are in the 1 to 2 pound range.
- Again, that’s comparing a fully functional performance driven 12” laptop computer with an iPad. Tablets PCs and UMPCs that use the same components as a netbook, get battery life closer to the iPad.
- The same NEC Tablet PC, I mentioned above, was a half inch thick when released in 2002. There are others that are between a half inch and an inch thick. The same goes for UMPCs.

Also, if you read my post before you posted, you would see that I specifically said that Tablet PCs are not meant to compete in the same market as the iPad. They are meant for professionals and students. Ultra-Mobile PCs are meant to compete in that market. Yet, you complete ignored them in your post. Of course, netbooks outsell Tablet PCs, they are meant for totally different markets. Also the netbook is at a low-end price point in its market, and tablets are in the high-end price point in its market. Even if they were targeted at the same audience, economics would tell you that the lower priced product is going to sell more.

I’m glad you consider your phone functional enough for your needs. Almost everyone would, but the article is about tablets. Your comment implies that since your phone is functional enough, that tablets are not necessary. This would mean the iPad and any tablet with similar functionality to your phone are not necessary. That doesn’t mean that Tablet PCs with full PC functionality and more are not necessary. So, I’m not sure why you made this comment.

I’ll take your bet and I’m sure there will be a Tablet PC in 2011. I’m pretty sure there will also be derivatives of the UMPC (possibly with a different name) released in the future.

RE: Brace yourselves
By Belard on 10/8/2010 5:24:36 AM , Rating: 2
I don't think your points about the convertible tablets are true, not compared to similar sized notebooks.

The Tablet PC *HAS* its place. It really does. But as proven by the iPad and the Android/Windows clones coming out now, its form factor isn't usable for the masses.

In regards to most of the rest of your response. I understand where your coming from. The Tablet-PC was never really ready for most people because of the limitations of the technology and the costs involved.

UMPCs were really nothing more than $1000~2000 SONY tiny tiny notebooks... which todays $300 easily surpass in sales.

-Some Tablet PCs didn't require a stylus. If you prefer, you could get one of those. Also ,the UMPC was not based on using a stylus, though I think a few did use them. Again, if you prefer, get one that doesn't need it.

UMPCs and tablets are different computers, both are expensive. I think SONY left the UMPC market years ago even thou it was a powerful and good product, its price and ultra tiny size made it UN-substainable. An iPod makes for a better tiny computer than the UMPC... since the keyboard can be displayed on the screen. Yes, the pros on UMPC is that they dont have touch screens to get messy.

Your comment implies that since your phone is functional enough, that tablets are not necessary. This would mean the iPad and any tablet with similar functionality to your phone are not necessary.

That was not my point. Its that technology changes and functionality has advanced. The power of a modern Cell Phone with a 4" screen is more useful to the general user than the tablet-PC has been for years. (Yes, I know - Tablets have their place)

iPads and others such devices have their place too. I want to get an iPad for my mother who won't touch a computer, because the iPad doesn't function like a notebook/tablet/desktop computer.

Personally, I welcome Microsoft to enter the iPad market... we could see cheaper and more interesting devices, hopefully. We'll see how MS does. They do good and they screw up as well... and coming out with something "original" has never been part of Microsoft since day one. MS-DOS was purchased, IE, bought. Word, FrontPage, bought. The list goes on. But thats not saying MS doesn't do good things either... they created the mass-market PC, Windows7 is very good and at one time, they made the best joysticks on the market for PC, which have not been replaced yet. :(

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