Microsoft chief says his company's answer to the iPad will be in stores for the crucial 2010 year-end shopping season.
Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer said tablet-style computers based on the Windows 7 operating season will be in stores in time for the 2010 holiday shopping season.
"You'll see new slates with Windows on them," said Ballmer, speaking Tuesday at the London School of Economics.
"You'll see them this Christmas," said Ballmer.
Microsoft is hoping to counter Apple's momentum in the tablet, or slate, computing market.
The iPad hit Target stores throughout the U.S. on Sunday under a partnership that's designed to introduce Apple's personal computing tablet to a larger audience while boosting foot traffic at Target's brick-and-mortar outlets during the crucial holiday period.
Microsoft has said it plans to offer a number of slate-style PCs in the coming months that leverage Windows 7's built-in touch capabilities. The company has said it will launch slates in partnership with several hardware makers, including Hewlett-Packard.
"Windows PCs will absolutely offer the greatest variety and the most interesting content and entertainment experiences in the world," said Ballmer, during a keynote presentation earlier this year at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas.
While Microsoft has provided few details about its slate plans, Ballmer, at CES, demonstrated a prototype, Kindle-like device from HP that was running Amazon's Kindle e-reader application.
"It's almost as portable as a phone, and as powerful as a PC running Windows 7," said Ballmer. "This emerging category of PCs really should take advantage of the touch and mobility capabilities of Windows 7," he said.
Microsoft's slate plans come at a time when the personal computing market is fragmenting into numerous new categories, including tablets, smartphones and multimedia stations, that are taking Redmond into uncharted waters and don't necessarily play to the company's strength in traditional client-server systems.
Ballmer, however, has said he's confident the company can thrive in many of these new categories.
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