back to article Ballmer preempts Jobs with tablet slate trio

During his keynote presentation Wednesday evening at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, Nevada, Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer sent a not-too-subtle message to that other Steve, Mr. "CEO of the Decade." Namely, that as the world waits in salivating suspense for what is increasingly certain to be a late-January unveiling …


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  1. Prag Fest
    Thumb Down


    A revolution in mobile computing, take the lid off a netbook and stick Windows 7 on it. Will these people ever learn?

    1. Kenny Millar


      You are so right.

      Look at the photos over at the archos website and see that it's all about the OS and the hardware, the end user can go to hell. Who (at MS) cares about the user experience so long as it runs Windows 7?

      For MS it's all about the Brand and the juggernaut of sales, keep the user swamped and he won't be able to move away, while others are concentrating on the user experience: Treat the user with respect and he'll be faithful.

      Apple, Nokia and Palm are all coming to realise that if you get the user experience right, then the users will stay faithful. MS are still trying to use beatings and negative reinforcement to demand brand loyalty.

      So, you know what MS should do? (I know I will get flamed for this, but it would work). They should draw a line under Windows 7 and say, after that we will have a brand new operating system. It will not be backwards compatible, though it will work on the same hardware. It will be new from the very bare bones upwards, it will not be based on any previous version of windows, and it will not be called windows.

      Now, I know all you windows fans will be snigger at how stupid that sounds, but is it really? Is it any worse than someone who decides to switch from WIndows to Linux? Or windows to Mac OS X?

      You are all crying out about how there will be no support for you favourite this that or the next app, but the developers will love it, they get to re-factor all their products, which they've been secretly wanting to do for years. Anyone who has ever made Mac software has already done that once, and it pays.

      1. N2


        Its long overdue that Microsoft did something new, I mean Win7 was because Vista was so dreadfully cocked up, it still uses the registry & its still relies on that dopey UAC that can be turned off.

        To me MS looks like a company whos crowning glory has been to piss users off for years with half finished slop or the well withered carrot of 'it'll all be fixed in the next version' spouted from its dwindling hoard of evangelists.

        Microsoft really need to drop its 'leverage' tactics, gets its pricing right and focus on customer loyalty & yes, I'll probably be up there on the bonfire with you, but before you light the pyres just consider that I personally want Microsoft to improve as its good for all of us to have competition.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        yes but

        If you tasked Microsoft with building a NEW OS from the ground up, no code ripped from Windows, they could never create anything that even comes close to Linux. Not unless they actually built it on top of the Linux kernel, which has had its code tried and tested and tweaked for almost 2 decades by more people than Microsoft would dare employ. And if they did employ the people, they'd still be stuck with closed proprietary code that cost them billions of dollars to write, that no one will buy because it serves no purpose that isn't already filled by either Windows, Linux or OS X.

        Fact is it's Windows or nothing for Microsoft. The Windows brand and famous "compatibility" is all they have left. They'd be doomed to fail the day they abandoned it, and they know this. That's why you get the same rehash every few years, and that's all you are ever going to get. If you want something new, Steve Ballmer is not your man.

    2. RichyS
      Gates Horns


      The very fact that MS have crammed Win6.1 into the tablet shows that they still don't get it. I suspect that this will fail as badly as all the other XP and Vista tablets.

  2. rasmus petersen

    Damage caused by delaying mr. Ballmer ?

    "Ballmer's keynote began 26 minutes late due to a power outage that also disabled some of the planned demo equipment. One can only assume that hanging out with Mr. Steven Anthony Ballmer during that downtime was a less than pleasant experience."

    Maybe there is a need for :

    Damage caused by delaying mr. Ballmer : 10.000

    1. RichyS

      Chair Man

      The bill for new chairs alone is going to run into the hundreds of thousands...

  3. Rob McDougall
    Jobs Horns

    Hey, isn't that....

    I think I just saw Steve Jobs going round the corner with a bunch of circuit breakers in his hand...

    1. Gary F 1

      Leave them to it.

      I think that Jobs would just comfortably leave them to it.

      Even though they have announced today, before Apple, in reality we all know it is a desperate act of jumping on the bandwagon.

      The sudden adoption of the "Slate" name is no coincidence, and reeks of desperation and spoiling tactics.

      But then MS and Ballmer are never too shy to steal a good idea and dip it in Microsoft sewerage to bring out an inferior product.

      iPod - Zune

      OSX - Vista / Windows 7

      Apple retail stores - Microsoft stores

      Sony Playstation - Xbox

      Palm - Pocket PC

      And now for the iSlate, Ballmer whores for HP to desperately try and appear that MS beat Apple to the launch. (Although I'd bet good money that Apple will beat them by a mile in getting an actual device to retail and into consumers hands).

      1. whiteafrican

        @ Gary F 1

        "Even though they have announced today, before Apple, in reality we all know it is a desperate act of jumping on the bandwagon."

        ...ummm... right, so the facts are as follows:

        Microsoft first came out with Tablet PCs around 10 years ago, and various OEMs have been making such tablets, running various Windows OSs for at least that long. We have seen touchscreens, we have seen pressure-sensitive pens, we have seen true "slate" models, we have seen "convertible" notebooks, and we have seen hybrids with detachable keyboards (like HP's tc1100). Today, Ballmer announced the latest installment of an existing concept, in a field in which Microsoft has a proven profitable track record...

        Meanwhile Apple has announced nothing. No specs, no images, no concepts. Nothing. At all.

        Based on that, you conclude that Microsoft is jumping on Apple's bandwagon? Dude, what are you smoking? ... and where can the rest of us get some?

        1. Anonymous Coward


          Ooooh! Someone's wintard cage has been rattled.

          "Microsoft first came out with Tablet PCs around 10 years ago." And boy, did they suck arse! Microsoft essentially added some features to their existing software that made it work with a resistive touch screen, allowed for the desktop to rotate 90 degrees (did they have an accelerometer?) and had handwriting recognition. Essentially a giant pda with a desktop OS and a shite keyboard. They were crap and typically *really* badly manufactured. They were also too heavy for any real practical application. Funnily enough, most of the technology was in someway actually developed by, wait for it... APPLE! For the Newton PDA of the early 1990's!

          "in a field in which Microsoft has a proven profitable track record..." Dude, how much are you astroturfers on these days? To describe the tablet PC as a success is stretching reality somewhat, isn't it! It has been an unmitigated failure!

          "Meanwhile Apple has announced nothing. No specs, no images, no concepts. Nothing. At all." Well they have and they haven't. They have leaked to the WSJ. They always do. They don' say much, but they have pretty much confirmed that this thing exists. Apple *never* show their hand until it's time to play it! They have been like that since forever! Ballmer and co are clutching at straws. There was no real announcement made. I would be surprised if they are replaced for the main event next year by someone that actually has something to show!!!

          So, to throw your last paragraph back at you, "Based on that, you conclude that Apple is jumping on Microsoft's bandwagon?" Dude, the rates they're paying you shills must be really good for you to actually belive the bollocks that you wrote, or are you that much of a fanboy...

          Incidentally, the "Windows Tablet" hardware was 'developed' by HP and others. Not Microsoft.

          1. whiteafrican

            @ AC

            The point I made was that Microsoft cannot be said to be jumping on the bandwagon here. Microsoft and the OEMS together have made products that run a full-fat OS in a slate/tablet model.

            But since you want to widen the debate, you might want to start by checking your facts. You state that that the Tablet PCs ran "resistive touch screens". Whereas most of them actually ran Wacom's Penabled system. If you're a graphic artist and want to draw straight onto the screen of your Device, these are awesome. I have had an HP tc1100 for 4 years. When it comes to digital painting, it is without exception the best non-desktop I have ever used. I've also never had any of these manufacturing problems you speak of... but I digress.

            You say that "most of the technology" for the Tablet PCs was developed by Apple for the Newton. I haven't researched this, but it seems unlikely, for two reasons:

            1) the Newtons ran totally different hardware, software and operating systems from the Tablet PCs; and

            2) if such technology was developed for the Newtons, Apple would (like any sensible company) have patented it. Since patents last for 20 years, it seems heavily unlikely that MS would have used Apple's technology, but please let me know if you have any evidence of this. Alternatively, if you just made this argument up, and have no real facts to back it up, then please let me know that instead.

            When it comes to being a success, you seem to misunderstand the point. Tablet PCs were never going to dominate the market. They are a niche product. But both Microsoft and the OEMs have managed to make money out of them for the last decade. I'm not sure what you mean by "success", but from a corporate perspective, making money is more or less the only relevant thing.

            I also am not sure I understand your point about announcements. MS announced an actual product, complete with a demo. Apple have announced nothing. That's no slight against Apple (it is, as you point out, their way of doing business). But (going back to my first point) it does mean that commentards like the original poster can't argue that MS is copying Apple, since there's nothing to copy yet. I know the fanbois like to believe that Apple invented everything first, but they didn't.

            As for believing what I wrote, I can only refer you to my own experience. I want a tablet that I can carry with me, use on the tube/train/whatever and that allows me to draw on the screen, that recognises full pressure sensitivity. I want it to let me do this in the most advanced programs available (that means full versions of Photoshop and Corel Painter at a minimum). HP and Microsoft produced the HP tc1100 that allows me to do all of these things. Apple don't make anything that allows me to do these things, and all the indications are that when they do make a tablet, it'll run the iPhone OS (which means no Photoshop, and no Corel Painter). Interestingly, there is a company that makes a modbook version of a tablet by gutting a macbook and adding a Wacom stylus, essentially turning it into a Mac version of the Tablet PC... bandwagon, anyone?


            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              From the bottom up...

              "Interestingly, there is a company that makes a modbook version of a tablet by gutting a macbook and adding a Wacom stylus, essentially turning it into a Mac version of the Tablet PC... bandwagon, anyone?" Although licensed by Apple (see Psystar, it can be done legally) this isn't an official Apple product in any tangible terms. It's made by (disassembled, then re-assembled with modifications) a company called Axiotron. It's not rocket science - although to one so blatantly blinkered it may be hard to understand...

              I too draw on personal experience. I'm an industrial designer. I saw these tablet PCs and thought "Great! Finally something I can draw on and use like a sketchbook!" How wrong was I!? These devices (specifically the HP TC1100) were so dreadfully underpowered that using them as such was not really possible. I hate when geeks cite Photoshop or worse still Corel like some badge of honour. Photoshop is not the be-all and end-all of computer graphics. Period. It's a darn good image editor that has become bloated and over priced. End of. I've been using it since early 1993 (version 2.5 for you history buffs) and have seen first hand its rise and subsequent demise. The last decent version was 7 IMHO. Autodesk Sketch looked ideal - and has mature ito a rather nice piece of kit - but again, the TC1100 was woefully underpowered. As for the iPhone OS not offering anything, have a look at this; (Links to Autodesk website). How do you like *them* Apples..?

              "But (going back to my first point) it does mean that commentards like the original poster can't argue that MS is copying Apple, since there's nothing to copy yet." What *you* have misunderstood is that Microsoft were trying too (and failed too) Apples thunder. It is *that* transparent. They even called the thing a "slate"!

              "When it comes to being a success, you seem to misunderstand the point. Tablet PCs were never going to dominate the market. They are a niche product. But both Microsoft and the OEMs have managed to make money out of them for the last decade. I'm not sure what you mean by "success", but from a corporate perspective, making money is more or less the only relevant thing." Figures? Utter and complete bollocks. Of course they made money! They did bugger all real R&D! So it was profit more or less from the get go! It. Was. A. Failure. Success would have been what Microsoft set out to do - offer a viable replacement for the laptop and the analogue notebook/sketchpad. In that they failed miserably...

              "You state that that the Tablet PCs ran "resistive touch screens". Whereas most of them actually ran Wacom's Penabled system..." I stand corrected. I have and use regularly a Cintiq and it is a petty amazing piece of hardware. Vastly overpriced though, as *all* tablets are. The TC1100 is not even in the same league. As for being a "graphic artist" - whatever *that* is - I sketch and draw pretty much everyday. It's a large part of my livelihood. Having owned (and sold) a TC1100, I wouldn't dream of using one professionally. Nor would I use the iPhone app - although it's handy for the odd lightbulb moment on the Underground...

              Down to the nitty gritty; "The point I made was that Microsoft cannot be said to be jumping on the bandwagon here. Microsoft and the OEMS together have made products that run a full-fat OS in a slate/tablet model." Why have they announced this now do you think? Not a jot about tablet PC's from any of the OEMs *or* Microsoft for the last few years, it's all been about the netbook. Then around about May last year, a rumour that Apple are developing a tablet-like device start to appear. All of a sudden, the tech press are hyping and dismissing a device that they didn't know even existed. NOTE: Not once have Apple officially confirmed or denied these rumours. ALL the information is conjecture on the part of the media. ALL the hyperbole is the medias - this site being as guilty as anyone. So, freetards and wintards alike, just remember that the next time you slag off Apple for claiming to re-invent the wheel, or that they get too much press. None of this has been courted. Microsoft suddenly in September(?) unveil a tablet like PC concept called "Courier". So yes, it *really can* be said that Microsoft a jumping on a bandwagon...

              1. whiteafrican


                OK... The basis of your argument appears to be that you are unhappy if one company announces a product while there is an unsubstantiated rumour in the market that their competitor might at some point unveil a similar product. That is clearly laughable. But there are some specific points that you might want to rethink:

                1. Axiotron. I know they're not Apple - I believe I said so in my post above. The point is, there is sufficient demand for the TabletPC form factor, that someone would reassemble a macbook to make them.

                2. I'm not sure what you mean by "woefully underpowered" in relation to the tc1100. It's a 10-inch tablet. It's never going to rival a state-of-the-art desktop for power. Also, was discontinued 5 years ago... If you want a current comparison for power, go get one of the current tx series – it has a 2.4Ghz processor and 4gb of ram. Do you think the iSlate will have like a 3Ghz quad-core processor and 8Gb of ram or something? I suspect not.

                3. The use of the term "slate" is not something Apple did first. TabletPC manufacturers have used the term for years. I have covered this point at length in a response to another fanboi below.

                4. I agree that the TC1100 is not the same as a Cintiq. For that reason, in my post, I explained that it was "the best non-desktop" I had ever used. You can't exactly use a Cintiq on the tube, can you?

                5. You're going to whine about the timing of Microsoft announcing products? You mean like the way Apple timed a press releases to coincide with the launch of Windows 7? I smell fanboi...

                6. I don't I understand the last paragraph of your rant. You appear to be conceding that Apple get way too much coverage from fanboi media types... I couldn't agree more.

                7. Technically, more or less anything *can* be said - that right is granted to you by the Human Rights Act 1998. The question you should ask yourself is whether it *should* be said. As with most fanboi hype, the answer is no.

                One final question... you thought (before I corrected you) that TabletPCs used resistive touchscreens. But you also claim that you went out and spent a few hundred quid on a tc1100? Did you not do any research before you bought it? Were you surprised when you got it home and discovered that it didn't have a resistive touchscreen? ...or did you make up that part of your argument too?

                1. Anonymous Coward
                  Anonymous Coward


                  1. No. You were trying to say that *Apple* were jumping on a tablet "bandwagon". Axiom are not Apple. As for "demand' - there are perhaps a handful of individuals that wanted it. It's a mod that can be bought on line. That is all.

                  2. You insinuated that it was good platform for Painter (probably - never used it) and Photoshop. obviously I can't comment on Painter, but it isn't even close to being a good platform for Photoshop - it's woefully underpowered. There that wasn't hard, was it. I don't think that it's relevant what power the newer models have and unlike you Wintards, I won't speculate on what Apple's device will or won't do.

                  3. Whatever. Another bizarrely insecure wintard trying to say "Microsoft did it first..." Pathetic.

                  4. That's your opinion. I disagree that the device in question was any good at all. The reason i mention Cintiq is that it's essentially the same technology - a good reference point since it was first released at the same time.

                  5. Whining now? No - just pointing out that Apple *weren't jumping on a bandwagon* as you suggest. I wasn't the one suggesting that nast old Apple were trying to crash poor 'ickle Microsoft party. Twat.

                  6. I was merely pointing out that wintards and fanboys like you are the one that hype Apples products as you are now. Not Apple.

                  7. That has got to be about the most juvenile thing I've seen on here! AND you are still wrong!!! Unbelievable! What next?! Are you going to tell your Mummy that I won't agree with you? Diddums...

                  Mate, I'm a professional designer, not some hobbyist fanboy. It's not something I'd personally buy and seeings as I'm not some kind of nerd I don't spend my days salivating over tech-specs and model numbers. I like a product that works. As for calling me a liar - grow up you child...

                  1. whiteafrican

                    @AC, 07:51

                    OK, you are clearly a bit upset by all of this, but there's no need for the sort of language you use at the end of your point 5. That said, you remain as wrong as you were at the start. I am not sure whether you read what I wrote, or just wanted to respond to points you wished I had made, so let's recap:

                    1. I didn't say Apple were on a bandwagon. I just said MS weren't on one. I did point out that there was a certain irony in that there are third parties mimicing MS/OEM products with Apple hardware, but nowhere did I say Apple were on a bandwagon. Pretending to know what I was "trying to say" and then arguing against it is a bit disingenuous.

                    2. The tc1100 is a perfectly decent platform for Photoshop (I have run both 7 and CS2 on it). Of course, it depends what you wanted to use it for, but I have no problems doing large (A2+) paintings with over 50 layers in them. Then again, I bought mine with the ram upgrade. When you say "woefully underpowered" it sort of begs the question of why you bought one... I mean, the OEMs pront all the processor and ram statistics on the outside of the box. Did you not read them before you bought it?

                    3. It's a little childish to resort to insults when you lose an argument. You argued that MS copied Apple by using the word 'slate'. You were wrong. Deal with it.

                    4. I agree - everything in this comments section is about opinions. As for the comparison, you're weighing the Cintiq (a display designed for a desktop) against the tc1100 (a tablet designed to be used on the go). If that's how you normally weigh design considerations, I am concerned for your insurers.

                    5. Again, I didn't suggest that. I am not sure there's any need to get quite so upset about it though.

                    6. Again, I'm not sure what you think I said... Perhaps you should re-read my last post. I did not it woudl be wrong for Apple to hype anything - that would be ridiculous. It's their job to hype their own products, as it is the job of anyone who wants to sell anything. What I did do was accuse fanboi media types (for a really good example, read the work of Brian X. Chen over at Wired) of hyping Apple products for no good reason. This is particularly apparent when you consider that, at this point, it isn't even certain that the product in question (the iSlate) exists at all.

                    7. Lol - that actually made me chuckle. You level accusations that your opponent is being "juvenile" and then make "mummy" insults in the same paragraph. Brilliant.

                    Lastly, the point is as follows: you made an unsubstantiated criticism of tablet PCs (that they had resistive touchscreens) and then you claimed that you owned (and sold) a tc1100 tablet PC (which doesn't have anything like a resistive touchscreen). So either a) you don't know what a resistive touchscreen is, in which case, it was a bit of a silly point for you to raise, or b) you didn't actually ever own a tc1100. It's interesting that you use the word "liar". I didn't call you that, but if it's the name you want to use, then I'm cool with that.

          2. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward


            @AC response to whiteafrican.

            Oh please, read your post again. Only a 'fanboy' would get as worked up as you.

            Where on earth do you get 'really' badly manufactured from? Toshiba M200, HP TC 1000/1100, IBM X60's. All built like battleships and most still going strong today. Windows 7 has great touch capability and second to none inking and handwriting recognition. Dude, at least accept that.

            To Quote Spinal Tap, the tablet market was more 'selective'. Let's face it, there were a lot of great devices, in particular the TC1100, but they were way too expensive. Let's see what happens now with cheaper component costs.

            Also, when these devices were initially released, we didn't 'consume' the content we do now. Facebook, Youtube, twitter etc. Most people love to lounge around the house catching up on their content, and what better form factor than a slate, aimed at consumers rather than business, as was the case in the past.

            Just to clarify, all fanboys are cocks. And you are included in that.

            Sent from my Macbook Pro

            1. markp 1

              Very this

              Got a TC4200, the 1100's successor, and it's still trucking just nicely - as my "main PC" no less! - under XP tablet SP3 with aught but a bit of extra RAM and a bigger hard disk (and that only because I'm power usering). There were some glitches at first (soft/firmware) but they've been ironed out... and the extra money spent, nowhere near that of a Mac, has shown its value in the machine's longevity. HP built in some surprisingly capable, or at least future-proof parts to what was ostensibly an ultralight, long life machine.

              Hopefully they can keep the flag flying with the modern, stylus-free* version and trounce the yuppie limelight-stealers again.

              (* is that entirely a good idea? using the pen keeps the screen cleaner, is better for drawing with, and allows you to use proper handwriting where needed - either for entering small passages of text (admittedly having to battle windows' sometimes finicky recognition) or just putting a "real" signature at the end of a typed letter)

              ((and here ends a trifecta of probably similarly fanboyish bigups of my old tablet :D))

        2. Seanie Ryan


          Microsoft NEVER brought out a tablet PC, their OS was installed on one built by someone else.

          it would be like Bridgestone claiming they were the first to bring 4WD

          Balmer keeps spouting about how many PC's and phones they ship --- ZERO! they never shipped one PC or phone in their life. Only the OS for one. And hardware vendors can drop suppliers. Watch what happens with WinMobile now that Android etc is around.

          And the real benchmark is who makes one that USERS actually want to buy/use. thats the real key to design and implementation. No point in being first if you got it all wrong!!!

          and just to be really bitchy... the iphone is the closest item on the market to being a ultra small tablet, so Apple do have a proven & profitable track record in this area too. (they make the entire device too!!)

          1. Nur Ab Sal
            Gates Horns


            They did a version of Win XP for it.


            Presumably its slimmed down in some form.

            1. J. Cook Silver badge
              Thumb Up

              Not slimmed down...

              Tablet edition was pretty much Windows XP with several extensions and add-ons for tablet specific operations; such as the ink functionality, handwriting recognition, and the Journal tool.

              As far as tablets go, it's an outstanding concept, and I've used one of the devices my company bought last year for rather trivial and mundane purposes such as inventory audits, stock level tracking, and taking notes.

              my $0.02

          2. whiteafrican

            @Seanie Ryan

            Seanie, I'm not sure you understand the collaboration between Microsoft and the OEMs. Microsoft have always worked with OEMs to make computers. Does Microsoft deserve all the credit for making tablets? Of course not. But arguing that Microsoft deserves none of the credit is just absurd - without Micorsoft adding touch functionality to the OS, the OEMs would have no product.

            I agree with your observation that the benchmark is what users want. As I explained in my last post, I want to use a machine that recognises pressure-sensitive input and runs full-fat desktop apps like Photoshop. Windows OEMs have been making products that meet those needs for at least the last 6-7years. Apple have never made one.

            As for Apple's "track record" here, if you are going to have a tablet, why would you want it to be essentially a large iPhone? You would surely want it to do more than a phone, not the same amount in a bigger format. You would want it to run full applications, not apps designed to run on a phone.

            Also, hate to burst your bubble, but Apple don't "make the entire device" as you put it. Foxconn do. Learn more here:


  4. Stu Wilson

    ...apparently this needs letters or digits

    I can't say how happy I am to see these products, but Windows 7!?!

    when will they learn?

  5. uhuznaa
    Thumb Down

    "Great little PC"...

    Thinking of getting "the full PC experience" while reading a book on the go makes my blood freeze. If Windows 7 slapped on keyboardless netbooks is all they can do, I think Apple will stamp them into the ground here.

    1. StooMonster
      Gates Horns

      Jack of all trades, master of none.

      "from the largest screen in the living room, to the smallest screen in your pocket" says Ballmer on the video of CES 2010 keynote speech. In my opinion the trouble is Microsoft want the _same_ Windows on all of them. Why do I need to be able to run Excel on my TV? Totally agree, why do I want "the full PC experience" on my keyboardless netbook? I want it to browse media (books, music, video) and the web, and maybe play some games.

      It's Steve Ballmer's 10th anniversary as CEO of Microsoft this year, my money is on the board firing him in 2010.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Thumb Up

        Good points

        Yes, I think Microsoft missed the memo on people NOT wanting to have "PC experience" on every possible device.

        Maybe not as much missed as ignored. The problem is Microsoft is making insane amount of money on OS and office software, so it's not surprising they try to put Windows on every imaginable piece of consumer electronics. When Gates said he envisioned your toaster and washing machine running windows he was not kidding.

  6. Geoff Mackenzie

    It's not a slate

    it's a tablet. Trying to forcibly introduce a new term because your last attempt at a particular technology flopped so badly is a bit lame.

    Having said that, clearly a good match: HP hardware and MS software.

    Reattach the keyboard and forget about the touch screen, install Linux and you have a nice little netbook.

  7. Anonymous Coward

    XBOX 360

    Surprised to see just how successful the XBOX 360 was - even with the hardware issues, this venture seems to have reeled in a lot of money. OK, there is no indication of profitability, but in sheer revenue terms it's amazing. The only weakness in the PS3 was the online experience, just think about the potential sales had the PS3 captured even half of the XBOX 360's volumes.

    I could work for Jobs, I could never work for Balmer. Though Jobs is autocratic, Balmer is a bruiser (allegedly, literally).

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      the big weakness in the ps3

      Other than being very late and expensive...

      The other big weakness is Sony. The toolchain and library support for it is really ropey, and SOny developer relations are horrid. Microsoft more or less come round and make you coffee - even small developers have access to nice tools. I know, hard to believe, but it really is decent.

      Developing for the ps3 means re-.inventing the wheel too much every time to really get the best out of it, and few studios can afford to do that for such a minority platform- which is why it gets half arsed ports which run a lot worse than on the XBox.

      Uncharted 2 and similar show what the PS3 can do, but it's too much time and effort for most people. Sony let their own hardware down badly.

  8. Anonymous Coward


    How in the hell has Ballmer kept his job for so long? For slate PCs to work there has to be some kind of game-changing interface/killer-app for the thing, why does he think simply slapping Windows 7 into an oversized iPod Touch is somehow going to get everyone excited? We have no idea what Apple is going to come up with but I'd be prepared to bet it's something more interesting and useful than just a new form factor. The Courier 'proof of concept' they were working on looked like a winner, this is just typical Microsoft dull un-inventiveness...

  9. N2

    No power for 26 minutes?

    Sweat stains to the max - Yuk

  10. Kenny Millar

    Don't you think....

    This is a damning indictment of Windows Mobile?

    1. Anonymous Coward


      Seeing as it's basically a netbook without keyboad rather than a huge phone, no, not really.

  11. Elmer Phud
    IT Angle

    Almost but not completely unlike a phone

    "Ballmer called it "almost as portable as a phone," "

    That would be one of them breeze-block phones -- retro, I believe they are called nowadays.

    But are there still obnoxious city-types to wave them around or whip them out and whap them on a pub table?

  12. Barry Tabrah
    Gates Halo

    Are slates the future...?

    Slates, or tablet PCs as they used to be called, strike me as having a limited market. I sure as heck wouldn't want to use one strictly using a Windows 7 front end.

    Once again I think it'll fall to Apple to show us how these awkward, unwieldy, keyboardless devices can be turned into practical devices.

  13. Robert Carnegie Silver badge

    Slate is

    "Slate" is "touchscreen PC without a keyboard" (unless you plug one into USB). It should be quite clear. Better than "netbook", which means "doesn't have a DVD drive".

  14. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    What's so new and emerging about a PC type that's been around for almost a decade?

  15. John Savard

    What Microsoft Should Do?

    If Microsoft made a whole new operating system that wasn't upwards compatible... all it would have going for it is the Microsoft name.

    People would no longer have a real reason not to consider switching to the Mac, or to Linux.

    And so they could do that in droves, and Microsoft would be history. There's just no reason for Microsoft to bet the company like that. What new and exciting features could they add to a new operating system that was incompatible that couldn't be added to Windows instead?

    This would level the playing field between Microsoft and Apple and LInux. Why level the playing field when you're winning?

  16. /dev/me
    IT Angle

    We've been here before...

    To be fair, all previews of W7 in the past (before the public beta's) featured the OS's ability to be controlled by a touch screen. This, to me, seemed more than silly, as us normal people don't actually own a touch screen. And we wont be getting one either, due to the 'gorilla arm syndrome'. A touch screen on a desktop/laptop is worse than a mouse.

    But these Slates, formerly known as Tablets, this may be less a problem, and they might have a use yet. At least it's a decent attempt by Redmond to deliver the promise of W7's touch screen capability.


    On the other hand, I remember an exposition about future technologies that I visited as a child, somewhere in the mid-80's, where they had several touch screen based computers that you could play games on. So I would hardly call implementing this technology roughly 25 years later 'innovation'.


    Looked it up: it seems the first commercially available touch screen was indeed an HP(-150) brought to us in 1983. It was MS-DOS compatible, running on 8088 iron. Not even counting the initial R&D, it seems MS and HP have been working on this technology for 27 years now.

  17. FreeTard
    Thumb Down

    This product will fail

    Tablet PC's are absolutely useless gimmicks. No-one in their right mind would want to use one for real life work, not even surfing the interwebs.

    Look at the iphone/itouch for example, nice on screen keyboard, but come on, you cannot type for any length of time for it to be useful.

    Fine for very quick messages and that's it. I have one... Great for quick web surfing on the go though.

    And what about that name? The slate or iSlate has been rightly slated.

    1. Anonymous Coward

      Home use?

      I'd agree that they are pretty useless out there in the big wide world always have been, something like that would have to be pretty damn good to be used all over the place. Too delicate to be lugged all over the place without being damaged.

      Home use? Simply look at the number of laptops people own now, just for home use, my brother-in-law has 4 kids aged 7-15, they all have laptops each, so there is no fighting for PC time. I think something like this, if cheap enough, would be good for home use, laying on sofa, streaming and surfing.

    2. Sodabread

      Not necessarily a gimmick

      Tablets, as much as I hate them, are being used seemingly often in both education & medicine. I know there's a big push in New Jersey to get tablets to both teachers & students as it makes for easy organization & retention of information while still being able to write & display said information on the fly. I would assume mostly the same reason for doctor's offices & hospitals. This one in particular may very well fail, though. No telling until it's on the market.

  18. banana-naan


    No monkey dance?

  19. Individual #6/42

    Windows 7 on a tablet

    Slate sadly unrevolutionary. MS tablets have been steadily improving over the years (anyone remember being told to shut them down daily in order to run the housekeeping software?) but they're still stuck on the old menu, taskbar and wasted real-estate of Win3.1

    This may be an attempt to say "we got there first" but the inteface just doesn't cut it compared to the Kindle or Sony's reader. Jobs can concentrate on those two as his competitors.

    My money is on "Kindle 3" being the big winner this year, stealing ideas from Apple and working off their relationship with authors and distributors.

  20. Scott Broukell

    Tablet Schmablet

    If the iPhone was the Jesus phone, this must be the Moses tablet (groan).

    (mines the one with the SSD commandments in the pocket)

  21. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Up


    If it's available in brown I'm buying one.

  22. ToddRundgren

    Windows 7 and Intel Atom

    Isn't the CPU hopelessly under powered to run Win 7? My wifes netbook runs XP OK, but don't open many woindows as in the Archos piccy

    1. Mark Boothroyd

      @ Windows 7 and Intel Atom

      Re: 'Isn't the CPU hopelessly under powered to run Win 7? My wifes netbook runs XP OK, but don't open many woindows as in the Archos piccy'.

      Nope, got Win 7 running on my old Atom powered Acer Aspire One netbook, dual booting with Ubuntu 9.10 Netbook remix, and Win 7 runs smoother than Ubuntu and utilises the small screen more affectively.

  23. Anonymous Coward
    Gates Halo

    Dual Screen

    Where is the dual screen version, or was that just a reference design? Anyhow, Win 7 has built in support for touch screen so it's ideal for a touch screen tablet and pretty much guarantees compatibility with the software you have on the desktop.

    Where will it be useful? Good question, it could be a very limited market but it all depends on the price. If its priced like a kindle it would be a no brainer on which to get, if its priced like a PC then it's not going to gain much market traction.

    One thing that isn't pointed out, does it come with a microphone? Windows comes with nice voice recognition software (waiting for Apple to patent voice recognition on a tablet...) so basic tasks may be performable by voice rather than touch.

    Launch WMP for some HD (720p?) and instead of smudgy finger prints say "Open [Name] - Open Videos - Show Numbers - Double Click [Video#] - Play". Relaxing on your bed reading (yuck) Twilight? No need to flip the page, just say "Next page" or preferably "Delete twilight.*"

    And yeah, if its standard hardware, you will be able to stick Linux on to it very easily, odds are Linux fans will easily figure out how to partition it to dual boot Linux/Windows with full driver support, whilst the upcoming Apple clone will be locked down tighter than a nuns virginity.

  24. Matt Bryant Silver badge

    Even more ho-hum than the Nexus.

    We had some of the old tc1100s, they were very nice, we all played with them, took them to meetings, even ran web-based system monitoring software on them so we could carry them round and show management exactly what the server uptimes were, etc. Then we would put them down and did real work on our full-powered laptops and desktops. Some of them are still gathering dust in the cupboards at work.

    The slate format will have the same problem that the tablet had - jack of all trades, master of none. The Kindle is very specifically designed for one task, and does it very well. By having to cover all the PC tasks, the slates will have to carry an excess of software and hardware baggage. So it probably won't replace the Kindles as a reader, or the TomTom as a GPS navigation device, or the iPod as an MP3 player. And it's too big to replace the smartphone in your pocket, and not as convenient as a netbook out and about. A netbook has a cover to protect the screen and you can put it down and type with the keypad at the angle you want and the screen at the angle you want, whereas with the tablet/slate you will have to hold it or lug a stand along with you, and attach an external keyboard for real typing tasks. But, as it's Windows, you can make it do more than one task, such as adding navigation software so you can play videos on a decent screen and run say TomTom on the same device.

    I always wondered why Jobs thought there was market for an iSlate, maybe he's just envious of all those Windows on netbooks sales. For hp, this kind of development is relatively cheap - they already have netbook, touchscreen, smartphone and notebook lines they can borrow design bits from. But for Apple, this is a new arena and the little shared ground with the Macbooks and iBone mean it will be more expensive to design and produce than for hp (or Acer, Fujitsu, Dell, etc). Unless it's just a scaled-up iBone, which will not be as powerful as a Windows netbook or tablet/slate. Even with the fanboi tax, I don't see how Jobs can keep the price low enough to compete, not unless he has a new and exclusive killer app (iTunes alone is not enough).

    1. Bilgepipe

      No need to compete

      Jobs doesn't need to compete with that thing. All he needs is a usable tablet with some compelling content, which by all accounts he will have at launch. Ballmers toy is an embarrassment, judging by the share prices of both M$ and HP, obviously cobbled together over the Christmas break. It's not even an effective spoiler tactic, which was almost certainly the intention.

      You can't just throw a touch-botched version of Windows on a screen and expect to define some new kind of market segment, you need a new UI suited to the device - like Apple did and will do - not a screen with a bloated OS on it. How are you supposed to use those tiny Windows controls on that thing? Answer - you don't, you make new ones. Fail.

      The only tablets Ballmer should worry about are weight loss tablets.

  25. Bilgepipe
    Gates Horns

    Objection, M'lud

    "Rank of popularity of PCs among "smart devices": 1"

    PCs might be the most used, by choice or otherwise, but I doubt they are the most popular.

  26. Thomas 18
    Thumb Down


    so they recon 20% of windows applications ONLY run on Windoze 7. Pretty hard to believe.

  27. Anonymous Coward

    Yeah great...

    Where are the four buttons all Windows boxes need, on/off and CTRL,ALT & DEL?

    1. Dave 142


      they've gone for the solution Sony Ericsson and Nokia have used for years, you pull the battery out and put it back in a few times.

  28. Anonymous Coward

    "Number of times Ballmer said "Bing" in a ten-word description of Bing usage: 6"

    Would someone be so kind as to dig up this sentence? Thanks!

    1. Anonymous Coward

      Top Trumps

      This is what he said:

      Just bing "Bing", "bing", "bING or "BING" to find Bing!


      Steve Ballmers



      Motivation rating...60

      Threat level...75

      Horror rating...70



      Guru status...13


      Steve Jobs



      Motivation rating...67

      Threat level...15

      Horror rating...97



      Guru status...73


    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Was there - and have it on tape

      "We Bing, we Bing, and we Bing: Bing, Bing, Bing!"

      1. Anonymous Coward

        Re: "We Bing, we Bing, and we Bing: Bing, Bing, Bing!"

        Surely at least some of them bings must have been that other four letter word, f..k ? American censorship, land of the free and all that...

  29. uhuznaa


    Every now and then someone comes and says "These things are totally useless for real work and will fail!". Now, who speaks of work? These things are for CONSUMERS. Right now about two thirds of the population uses computers at home and all of them are using computers that are designed for work and for offices. And what are these things used for? Not for work, believe me. There's a huge market out there that just waits for something. And this is not keyboardless netbooks running Windows 7.

  30. James Hughes 1

    Original use of the 'Slate' word

    I seem to remember, at least 20 years ago, reading a SF book where handheld devices like these were called slates. And I think the book may even have been 20 years old at that time!.

    It obviously refers back to the time when people used slate tablets (see how I did that!) in school instead of paper (which was too expensive). This was taken up by the author of the book I read (It may even have been Asimov, but I am unsure) but updated to electronic devices.

    So, both the use of the word tablet and slate in exactly these circumstances are considerably older than either Apple or Microsoft would lead us to think.

  31. Prag Fest


    Mate, have a word. Ballmer spends 5 minutes showing off a clearly unfinished bit of kit, magically called a 'slate' while the web is ablaze with the talk of the imminent "iSlate". It's the most shameless bit of bandwagon jumping I've ever seen, nay, act of desperation. And this has sod all to do with fanboi this or fanboi that, it's just amazement that a company with MS's resources are making such a hash of things.

    You're right about one thing though, I've always thought the key element missing from the iPhone experience and what is potentially jeopardising Apples entire strategy, is the inability to run Corel Draw. And just imagine if it could run Lotus Notes too, dare to dream..

    1. whiteafrican

      @Prag Fest

      OK, here's a word:

      1. Apple weren't the first (or even nearly the first) company to call a tablet computer a "slate". It has been used for years to describe Windows Tablet PCs that don't have keyboards. Here are some examples:





      I could go on, but I'll stop there. If you're going to claim Apple are the only people who use a particular term (e.g. "slate") you might want to take a quick peek 'round the net and see if anyone else was using it first... Just a thought.

      2. Dare to read. I didn't mention Corel Draw. I said Corel Painter:

      But you could extend the analogy to whatever software is most important to you. Want Dreamweaver? Want Office (or OpenOffice)? Want your favourite desktop sopftware? My HP slate runs those, and it does it right now. The (quite possibly fictional) iSlate is reported to be running the iPhone OS, and it doesn't exist in the real world yet. The iPhone OS has its own apps, and they're fine for what they do (mostly novel timewasters). But you're surely not going to argue that they're anything like the same league as full PC apps, are you?

    2. ThomH

      Corel Draw?

      Corel Draw? I was under the impression that people were shifting to Adobe Illustrator due to its integration with Photoshop and InDesign. That said, Corel had an OS X port of Draw up to, I think, version 10. So they could possibly revive it.

  32. Anonymous Coward

    So many Apple fanboys

    Flocking to naysay. Give up and get a life!

  33. John Smith 19 Gold badge

    If you want old try this

    The Convergent Technologies Workslate

    IIRC the term was also used in some of the Niven/Pournelle novels.

    It's a form factor I like but the units to date have been heavy, expensive and *thick*.

    The question is wheather Windows will ever be the right OS to support this. At one point this looked like Penpoint could have been it but guess what MS managed to stuff that. We'll see if monkey boy is any more succesful this time round.

  34. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Up

    It's not going to the big ground breaker.

    The problem with the tablet/slate thing is that it is not going to be the answer for the great majority of users. Certainly, there are applications, and I have programmed some industrial systems with touchscreens, but apart from the slate's portability, I don't see where they are a big commercial winner for most users particularly in the office.

    The next BIG game changing thing will be machines that you can talk to "naturally" and have it understand you in a manner which sufficient for the purposed that you need it (I mean other than phone speed dial and the like of course) which will pose some interesting issues when working in an office environment.

    Speaking is what comes most naturally for us for communication.

    Anyone that can crack that nut is onto a huge winner.

  35. raving angry loony

    difference between "announce" and "exists".

    It's not who announces things first, it's who has actual products AVAILABLE first. Microsoft has a long, LONG history of "announcing" things that don't turn up until much later, just to screw over those who actually have product.

    So, where can I buy this Microsoft "slate" that they "announced"? Oh right, I can't. Whereas when Apple announces THEIR product, I should be able to buy it within a couple of days. (I won't, I've gone off Apple, but at least these days when they announce a product it bloody well exists!)

  36. h 6
    Jobs Halo

    What's he holding?

    When he shows the cover of the Twilight ebook?

    Two hands cupping an----apple!

  37. Matt Bryant Silver badge

    RE: No need to compete

    Dear Fanboi, there is no "new kind of market segment", it's just a rehash of the old PC tablet. I know the seriously deluded amongst the Church of St Jobs actually believe Jobs created everything first, but the truth is there is nothing new here. Unless iSlate has some really unique and valuable content (please expand on this "amazing content" as no-one else seems able to, including Jobs), it's just a PC tablet running MacOS - big deal. The iPhone was going into a very lucrative and competitive phone market, there just isn't a tablet market, just a niche.

    The only area I can see is if the new iSlate really is good at being a sketchpad for the crayola brigade in marketing departments and the like. Otherwise I just can't see the appeal to anything other than the fanbois.

  38. Mikey

    I do wonder...

    If Apple is releasing what is effectivly a giant iPhone... will it be released in multiple versions over time in order to add the missing functionality which should have been present at the beginning, much like the iPhone itself?

    Also, will it be able to multi-task, or will they have that functionality also locked to their own software and no-one else? Will it be compatible with other machines other than those running the apple OS? The ever-present issue of battery replacement also resurfaces. I'm also going to bet, unless they're willing to take a hit in their profits, any apple tablet will cost more than the equivilant non-apple variety.

    I wonder... have any of the rabid commentards used Win7 on any form of tablet yet, or are they just assuming it'll be shite and thats that? As with all things, lets wait and see, shall we?

  39. Robert Carnegie Silver badge

    You wants peach wreck ignition? Well,

    If you want speech recognition, it was included in XP Tablet PCs, apparently in a better version in Vista, and I assume in Seven. But in the first generation of Tablets, built for battery life instead of data-crunching power - and light on RAM - it was painfully slow to respond, and inflexible. On machines in 2010 it may be more useable than ever before, although again the fashion is for less processing power on your portable device and longer battery life. Maybe someone 'll set up speech recognition in the cloud, voice decoding as a servvice across the Internet... isn't that scary!

    Then again, back in the day I was solemnly assured that every fax message sent in Britain (ask your parents) was duplicated at the national spybheadquarters, GCHQ.

  40. Anonymous Coward

    New Marketing

    I have a 5 year old Tosh M200 pen-enabled tablet sitting in front of me which has given (and continues to give) me great service. It has an accelerometer and runs Windows XP. It's great for notes, audio recording, research, on the road presentations and general brainstorming, amongst other things.

    Yes, it weighs a little too much, gets hot as hell and battery life could be better, but as a digital slate tablet it delivers. The same product built with today's technology and running W7 would undoubtedly hit the spot for this particular niche market. And it is still a niche market. I still get people looking over my shoulder and expressing interest, curiousity and enthusiasm for a properly used tablet. With the right marketing and today's improvements in technology, I'm sure that more people would adopt this form factor.

    This iSlate thing sounds like new marketing, rather than new technology, but Apple is good at marketing, that's for sure and I'm certain that the market niche can be expanded - just try not to swallow the innovation line whole without a little prior analysis.

  41. Master Luke

    Why "Slate"?

    Is it because it is running Windoze 7, so you'd be better off switching it off and writing on it with chalk?

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