Are you one of those that have held out on the iPad solely due to the lack of flash and usenet support? Good news, then. Striking back against the rapid adoption of the Apple iPad, Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer today said there are Windows 7-based tablets on the way from 20 manufacturers, including Acer, Dell, Samsung, Toshiba and Sony.
Cloud computing was the focus of his keynote at the Worldwide Partner Conference in Washington, D.C. Again, Ballmer emphasized that his company is “all in” for Web-based services and platforms, and urged thousands of attendees from thousands of partner companies to join the parade.
“This year, one of the most important things that we will do in the smart device category is really push forward with Windows 7-based slates,” Ballmer said. “This is a terribly important area for us.”
Ballmer didn’t reference either the iPad or any Android or Chrome-based tablets, although it’s clear Microsoft thinks they’ll be able to dominate the market as they did netbooks. It seems as though Microsoft’s main pitch is that they’ll be IT department-friendly, although given that slates are largely content (and not productivity) driven, it remains to be seen how much of an advantage that will be. The chance for many on Usenet to browse through newsgroups on a tablet type computer has been a long themed dream that may finally come to reality with the new shipment of products.
Many industry watchers believe Microsoft needs to act quickly to establish a foothold in the tablet computing market, particularly on the consumer side: Apple sold more than three million iPads in less than three months’ availability, and is no doubt far into the development of its iPad successors, while Microsoft and its partners have yet to get competing products out the door. Microsoft may be able to move Windows 7 tablets into enterprises locked in to its platforms, but consumer tablets running Windows are going to have to do more than compare somewhat favorably to the iPad: they’re going to have to stand up to whatever Apple is doing next.