Ballmer says Microsoft’s “hardcore” about tablets

Tablets are “terribly important” for Microsoft, and the firm is working with manufacturers to bring an “impressive range” of the devices to market, according to chief executive Steve Ballmer.

Ballmer says Microsoft's

New Windows-powered tablet or slate devices are in the pipeline from Acer, Dell, Samsung, Toshiba, Sony and a dozen other PC makers, Ballmer said at the company’s annual partner conference.

You will see a range of Windows 7-based slates that I think you’ll find quite impressive

“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,” said Ballmer.

“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,” he told attendees, according to the Telegraph. “This is a terribly important area for us. We are hardcore about this.”

“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,” said Ballmer. “But they will all run Windows 7. They will run Windows 7 applications. They will run Office.”

Apple’s iPad, launched in April, has already sold more than three million units worldwide, and threatens to take customers away from Microsoft-dominated desktop computing.

Ballmer did not mention HP, which was the first company to back Windows 7 slates, but subsequently announced it would be making slate devices running the operating system devised by Palm, which HP bought this year. However, HP’s logo did appear on a slide listing PC makers working on slates that was displayed as Ballmer spoke.

Earlier this year, Microsoft halted development of its own Courier dual-screen tablet.

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