Microsoft, partners to push tablet computer rivals to iPad

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The Independent Tech

Microsoft is teaming up with nearly two dozen hardware makers to release Windows-based tablet computers, Microsoft chief executive Steve Ballmer said Monday, devices like Apple's popular iPad.

"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 and Windows 7 phones," Ballmer said.

"Over the course of the next several months you will see a range of Windows 7-based slates that I think you'll find quite impressive," Ballmer said in the opening speech at the Microsoft Worldwide Partner Conference here.

"This is a terribly important area for us," he said. "We are hardcore about this."

"They'll come from the people you would expect - from Asus, from Dell, from Samsung, from Toshiba, from Sony - Windows 7-based slates," Ballmer said.

"They'll come with keyboards, they'll come without keyboards, they'll be dockable, there'll be many form factors, many price points, many sizes," he said. "But they will all run Windows 7. They will run Windows 7 applications. They will run Office."

A slide of Windows 7 "slate" partners displayed by Ballmer listed 21 manufacturers besides the ones mentioned by the Microsoft CEO, including Fujitsu, Hewlett-Packard, Lenovo, Panasonic and Pegatron.

Apple has sold more than three million iPads since the touchscreen device went on sale in early April.

Ballmer also said Microsoft had "missed a generation with Windows Mobile," its cellphone operating system which has been losing ground to Apple's iPhone, the Android platform from Google and the Blackberry from Research in Motion,

"We really did miss almost a release cycle," he said. "But Windows Phone 7 has received really great reviews, really quite remarkable reviews.

"I think we will give you a set of Windows-based devices people will be proud to carry at home and which will really fit and support the kinds of scenarios that enterprise IT is trying to make happen."

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