updated 10:05 am EDT, Tue October 5, 2010
Microsoft CEO sees Windows iPad rivals by year end
Microsoft's tablet strategy accelerated on Tuesday with remarks from CEO Steve Ballmer that Windows-based rivals to the iPad would be in stores by the end of the year. In a presentation at the London School of Economics, he wouldn't name companies but said of the tablets that buyers would "see them this Christmas." The company had put in effort to make sure the tablets were suitable for creation and consumption, Reuters and students heard.
No official unveiling date had been given, but a leak the same day has pointed to Ballmer using the October 11 Windows Phone 7 event as a launching point for Windows 7 tablet plans. The hardware would only be a minor focus but could see devices named, according to Neowin. Microsoft has allegedly been working with unnamed PC builders to respond to the iPad, but it's not know if there are any special deals or if these are simply known projects.
The most likely candidate to be discussed at the New York City event is the HP Slate 500, which could ship by the end of this month. It has come to symbolize Microsoft's frustrated tablet efforts as it was shown by Ballmer himself in January but has gone unreleased for ten months and was eventually shunted to the enterprise role, although a mainstream version may be coming. Other candidates are the soon-to-ship ExoPC and an accelerated launch of the ASUS Eee Pad EP121, although others are possible.
Microsoft is widely thought to have been broadsided by the launch of the iPad. Despite trying to push Windows tablet PCs as mainstream devices for nine years, Microsoft has already been eclipsed by Apple. iPad sales more than doubled the 1.25 million estimated 2010 Windows tablet sales in less than three months and may lap Windows' lifetime tablet numbers in a fraction of the time span. Windows-based tablets have usually been criticized for a lack of complete finger touch input, high prices and low battery life compared to more software-limited but cheaper, longer-lasting and more intuitive mobile tablets like the iPad or Galaxy Tab.