Report says Redmond will finally get around to shipping devices that can compete with Apple's slate and Android-based devices.
Microsoft plans to introduce a range of new tablets powered by its Windows 7 operating system at January's Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, according to a published report.
The software maker, which is under pressure to produce a slate that can go head-to-head with Apple's iPad and devices powered by Google's Android OS, will unveil slates manufactured by OEM partners Dell and Samsung, according The New York Times.
The Times, citing unnamed sources, said the Samsung devices would be "similar in size and shape" to the iPad, but not as thin and equipped with a slide-out keyboard. The newspaper did not offer details on the Dell device.
Microsoft has not confirmed the report.
Microsoft's credibility in the tablet market has come into question, as the company has failed to deliver on previous promises to deliver a full range of slates. CEO Steve Ballmer took the stage at CES 2010 almost a year ago to demonstrate a Windows-powered HP slate.
"We're talking about something that's almost as portable as a phone and that's as powerful as a PC running Windows 7," said Ballmer. But the device failed to materialize in stores. HP is said to have pulled its support for a Windows-based consumer tablet as the company wants to use its WebOS platform for its own line of slates.
In October, Ballmer told an audience at the London School of Economics that Microsoft would have Windows slates in stores "by Christmas." That also has not happened. Some reports suggest that Microsoft is waiting for Intel to begin shipping Oak Trail before the company and its partners begin mass producing slates, as Microsoft believes Intel's low-powered mobile processor will be a good fit for Windows 7 slates.
Whatever the reason for the delays, Microsoft is risking more than just credibility as it doddles its way into the tablet market.
Apple's iPad and Google Android-based devices already have a solid grasp on the market, and Goldman Sachs predicts tablets will cannibalize PC sales at a rate of 35% next year. "A tablet response is still not forthcoming" from Microsoft, said Goldman Sachs analyst Sarah Friar, in a research note published Sunday.
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