At his keynote at the annual Worldwide Partner Conference, Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer told the expectant crowd that they should see Windows 7 tablet slate devices by the end of the year. This won’t be a one-release pony, and we should expect to see devices from a variety of manufacturers producing a wide range of configurations and platforms.
In the address, he never mentioned the expected competition, Apple’s iPad and devices running Chrome OS or Android, by name. The Windows 7 devices will be aimed at not only the consumer market, a market that currently holds the tablet form-factor in high esteem, but also the enterprise market, hoping to integrate the tablet experience with the IT systems integration that Windows dominates that market with.
According to ZDnet, this announcement is way overdue. As other OS developers produce successful systems for the slate device, Microsoft is falling behind in this ripe market. While Windows 8 is said to be focused on the tablet and small form-factor devices, that OS is still years away.
Microsoft has already aborted one tablet concept prematurely. The demise of the Courier, an interesting dual-screen tablet PC concept, was trashed back in April, causing internal turmoil at Microsoft headquarters. The cancellation could have been the catalyst that caused respected product executive J Allard to leave the company (although he has denied this claim in interviews). If Ballmer’s words are accurate, a successful Windows 7 slate tablet may be just what Microsoft needs to get back into the tablet game.
Image Credit: Zimbio