Microsoft to unveil new tablet devices at CES 2011, one with slideout keyboard

Mon, Dec 13, 2010

News, Rumors

Bill Gates has long been a champion of tablet computing, yet as luck would have it, and as is often the case, the market for tablet computing never really took off until Apple decided to throw its hat into the ring.

Over the past decade, Microsoft’s tablet initiatives have been overwhelmingly lackluster, but the Redmond-based company remains determined to get in on what is now a burgeoning market filled with a plethora of new devices.

According to a report in the New York Times, Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer will use next month’s CES convention in Las Vegas to show off 3 new tablet devices running Windows 7 and running on hardware from big name companies such as Samsung and Dell.

Citing people familiar with the situation, the report details that the Samsung device in particular will sport a similar form factor to the iPad but won’t be as thin. But wait, there’s a twist! The Samsung/Windows 7 tablet will reportedly come with a slick “keyboard that slides out from below for easy typing.”

The people familiar with this device said it will run the Windows 7 operating system when in landscape mode, but will also have a layered interface that will appear when the keyboard is hidden and the device is held in a portrait mode.

Sounds pretty nifty, but call us crazy for being just a tad skeptical of this Windows 7/ layered interface hybrid OS. Hell, we’re skeptical of Windows 7 running on a tablet at all.

With the iPad accounting for 95% of the global tablet market, Microsoft will have a huge challenge on its hands to not only put a dent in Apple’s iPad armor, but to even sway folks not interested

Microsoft hopes these slates will offer an alternative to the Apple iPad because they move beyond play, people familiar with the tablets said. “The company believes there is a huge market for business people who want to enjoy a slate for reading newspapers and magazines and then work on Microsoft Word, Excel or PowerPoint while doing work,” explained a person familiar with the company’s tablet plans.

A person who works at Microsoft said the company was encouraging partners to build applications for these devices that use HTML5, the Web programming language. This person said the applications will not be sold in an app store, as with the Apple iTunes model, but Microsoft will encourage software partners to host the applications on their own Web sites, which will then be highlighted in a search interface on the slate computers. It is unclear if these applications will be ready for C.E.S. as most are still in production.

Another person with knowledge of Microsoft’s plans said Steve Ballmer may demonstrate a tablet and other companion devices running the next operating system, Windows 8.


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