Sure, Microsoft pretty much invented the tablet PC category about 10 years ago… but the company’s vision of tablet computers which had all the features of a laptop, plus a touchscreen display and pen input for drawing, writing notes, and handwriting recognition never took off in a big way with consumers — at least not the way the Apple iPad has in recent months.
In January, Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer took the stage at CES and showed the world an HP Slate which was supposed to be a sign of things to come. It wasn’t. Nearly a year later, the HP Slate 500 was released as a business-focused device rather than a consumer tablet to take on the iPad.
So Ballmer and friends are reportedly preparing for round two. The New York Times reports Ballmer will show off new slate computers at CES 2011, from companies including Samsung and Dell as the next generation of consumer tablets.
According to the New York Times’ sources, the Samsung Windows 7 tablet will have a slide-out keyboard of some sort, which sounds like the Samsung “Gloria” device we heard about recently.
While some folks are skeptical that slapping a touch-friendly user interface on Windows 7 will really make for consumer-friendly tablets like the Apple iPad or Samsung Galaxy Tab, (since under the hood, Windows is still a resource-intensive operating system designed to run on a wide range of hardware and offer business and productivity features and not just consumer oriented apps), it’s clear Microsoft has to do something to fend off the competition.
It’s expected that Windows 8, which is due out later in 2011 or early in 2012 will be designed from the ground up to offer a better consumer tablet experience. While it won’t be ready to ship for a while, there’s a chance that Ballmer may tease the new OS at CES in January as well.