Microsoft Preparing to Take Run at Tablet Computer Market -- Again

By Tracey E. Schelmetic December 14, 2010

Apple has one. Samsung has one. Even Research in Motion has one. What is it? A successful tablet computer. Though, given the phenomenal success of Apple's iPad, it might be said that Samsung and RIM are merely chasing Apple's tail. In any case, though, Microsoft reportedly plans to unveil a new line of so-called “slate computers,” probably at the 2011 Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas.

The New York Times stated that, according to sources close to Microsoft, Steve Ballmer, Microsoft’s chief executive, plans to announce two new devices when he takes the stage at C.E.S., introducing tablets (or “slates”) built by Samsung and Dell, both manufacturing partners of Microsoft.

Microsoft, as is its habit, has remained mum on the topic: the company does not comment on new product lines before their launch. These will not be the first tablets launched on Windows 7: Hewlett-Packard announced a tablet device in January of this year that failed to impress analysts or the marketplace as a whole.

Going forward, rumors have put the new Microsoft Samsung device as “similar in size and shape to the Apple iPad, but not as thin,” wrote the Times. It will also include a slide-out keyboard, a unique feature to the tablet computer market. The device, of course, will run Microsoft's Windows 7 operating system when it's held 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 is reportedly in the process of encouraging partner companies to build apps for the device. Rather than sell them in some sort of central “app store,” as does Apple, Times sources have said Microsoft will ask that the builders of apps host them on their own websites.

Tracey Schelmetic is a contributing editor for TechZone360. To read more of Tracey's articles, please visit her columnist page.

Edited by Tammy Wolf

TechZone360 Contributor

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