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.

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3 replies on “Microsoft to showcase Windows tablets, tease Windows 8 at CES?”

  1. “it’s clear Microsoft has to do something to fend off the competition.”

    Why? Why? Why? Why? Why? Why? Why? Why? Why? Why? Why? Seriously: WHY?!?!?!?!?!? It’s obviously not clear enough that I get what you’re saying, so clarify it. You have to be really, really, really, dumb if you think that a computer loaded with OS X/Windows 7/Ubuntu is in direct competition with a computer loaded with iOS/Windows Phone 7/Android just because there’s a common size or form factor. Are we really to believe that a thin-client that sits on a desk in an office is really a competitor to a full PC? They can compete over certain customers, but ar home users really going to be replacing desktop machines with thin clients? That’s stupid.

    The problem with your whole way of thinking, a problem that you share with other bloggers, is that, since you can’t pick up a windows 7 tablet and have it be like an iPad the Windows 7 tablet must be junk while conveniently forgetting that the argument cuts the other way. You simply can’t put down the Windows 8 tablet, pick up an iPad, and expect things to be the same or better. They’re too different. On the whole, a Windows 7 tablet is a far better device than an iPad. Surely, Microsoft could try to address the perceived meanigful difference between Windows 7 and iOs in order to make a seemingly more compelling product, but first it should do what it hasn’t done yet: make a big deal out of the ways in which their product is already better. I met with a wedding photographer a couple months back. She tried to impress me by showing some of her pictures on an iPad, which was cool. But then her website was loading properly in the browser, and to actually run through her RFP forms with me she had to fire up her macbook. If she had a Windows tablet then it would have just one device and a better experience.

    I just don’t think rational people can agree that non-PC devices and PC devices are in competition with each other in the way that term is intended. If iOS and Android have taught us anything it’s that there’s nothing so wrong with an operating system that enthusiasm for what’s right can’t make us blind to. iOS and Android are new and awful software products that are popular with people who are more likely to define quality in mentally ill ways. If Microsoft can tap into this mental illness, then perhaps they can remind people why the PC became what it still is, and how connected computers are little more than a return to what ultimately didn’t work out. Sadly, most people driving technology with their trends weren’t around back then, and don’t care.

    1. Take a deep breath and count to 15… Stop with the insults and then we can be rational!

      This just breaks down to a simple matter of what people actually need to get things done and still be portable at the same time.

      In many cases taking a full computer with you is like driving a tank when all you need is a bike to go to the corner store, which is the type of analogy you need to realize why iOS and Android are successful despite being limited.

      The other half of the equation is that the hardware is helping to force the competition. Since ARM devices can’t run x86 based OS but ARM systems are better suited for portable use than existing x86 options and that gives more incentive to use the OS’es already suited to the hardware without added cost and difficulty of converting a more capable OS.

      Again, like the Tank vs Bike analogy, a ARM device can go places a x86 device can’t. It may be less powerful and more specialized but it’s also more portable and gets the job done. And in the end all people really care about is that they can do what they need to do with minimal fuss.

      So when people say companies like MS need to compete, it simply means they need to convince people they still need more than the basics in an ever increasing mobile culture. Otherwise people will use the more advance options less and less and cause their market share to shrink in favor of more specialized and more portable devices that simply get the job done.

      Really, saying they don’t compete is like saying e-mail has nothing to do with the decline of snail mail use. Any product that has any overlap with another competes with each other!

      They just don’t need to replace each other to compete and can still co-exist but in business you always want to do more than simply co-exist!

  2. There he goes again…I kinda see this as the little boy (Ballmer) crying wolf. last year at CES he did the same thing and we kinda saw the tablet late last month but only for enterprise.

    Why should we get excited this year.

    I do want a Windows based tablet, however more and more I think I would like to see it a Windows Phone 7 OS based tablet.

    I would NEVER buy a rotten piece of fruit with a byte taken out of it.

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