Next month, at the 2011 Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, Microsoft will be presenting a slew of new slates that it hopes will offer some competition to the Apple iPad, which has quickly become the leader in this market.
Steve Ballmer, Microsoft’s chief executive, is expected to announce a number of these devices when he takes the stage at C.E.S., showcasing devices built by Samsung, HP and Dell.
The Samsung device is described as “similar in size and shape to the Apple iPad, although it is not as thin. It also includes a unique and slick keyboard that slides out from below for easy typing and will also run Windows 7 when in landscape mode. The device will also have a layered interface that will appear when the keyboard is hidden and the device is held in portrait mode.”
The people familiar with this device said it would 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.
Microsoft hopes these slates will offer an alternative to the 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.
According to a source who works at Microsoft, Microsoft was encouraging partners to build applications for these devices that use HTML5, the Web programming language. This source said the applications would 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 unnamed source with knowledge of Microsoft’s plans said Steve Ballmer might demonstrate a tablet and other companion devices running the next operating system, Windows 8, but as of yet Microsoft has declined to comment about coming products that have not been announced, according to reviewers in the industry.
Whatever is announced at C.E.S by Microsoft, it is sure to be exciting news, especially with what the world has seen the past year from the company.