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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  Microsoft's Kin project was a colossal sales failure perpetrated by miserably outdated hardware, bizarre commercials that bordered on disturbing, and a lack of carrier support.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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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.

"What would I do? I'd shut it down and give the money back to the shareholders." -- Michael Dell, after being asked what to do with Apple Computer in 1997

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