updated 10:50 am EDT, Mon July 12, 2010
Microsoft insists it can compete with iPad
Microsoft at the Windows Partner Conference today insisted it was still committed to the tablet space. CEO Steve Ballmer claimed the company was "hardcore" about slates at the Washington, DC event and touted the partners that hope to have touch-only tablets within a year's time. He acknowledged that developers "really want to know what's coming" and mentioned several partners, such as ASUS and its Eee Pad.
The executive was nonetheless vague about the prospects of the uncertain HP slate. A slide one hour, 33 minutes into his keynote Monday morning showed HP as a partner, but Ballmer made no mention of HP in his public speech. The presence suggests HP hasn't officially cancelled the Windows 7 slate it showed in January, although many suspect the PC builder has now switched its attention to the Hurricane webOS tablet and could drop the Microsoft tablet.
Many now consider Microsoft to have been caught off-guard by the sales success of the iPad and to be catching up on its tablet efforts. Although it had anticipated the possibility of an Apple tablet with very early previews of Windows 7 tablets at CES this year, no mainstream, touch-only tablets have shipped since; the non-iPad market is still comprised of the convertible netbooks and notebooks that have so far failed to get significant traction. Although Windows tablet PCs have existed since 2002, it wasn't until the iPad shipped that tablet sales nearly tripled in Europe.
Truly mobile OS-based tablets aren't due until Windows Embedded Compact 7 ships, which may not be available until 2011. [image via Todd Bishop]