Full breakdown and video of Microsoft's 'Slate PC' launch at CES

Watch the full video segment of Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer introducing the new "Slate PC" form factor for Windows 7 and read our breakdown of the announcement.

With The New York Times triggering a rumor that Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer would announce a new Microsoft tablet computer that would pre-empt Apple's eagerly-anticipated tablet announcement on January 27, there was a lot of buzz swirling around Ballmer's opening keynote at CES 2010 in Las Vegas.

It was standing room only in the Las Vegas Hilton Center for the event and Ballmer introduced not just one machine but three different devices in what he called a new "Slate PC" form factor.

Ballmer said."We're talking about something that's almost as portable as a phone and as powerful as a PC running Windows 7. This emerging category of PCs really should take advantage of the touch and mobility and capabilities of Windows 7, and are perfect for reading, for surfing the Web, and for taking entertainment on the go. Our OEM partners are doing some great work with Slate PCs that will be rolling into the marketplace this year."

The three examples that Ballmer showed off were:

  1. Small Hewlett-Packard device about the size of the Kindle and running Kindle PC software
  2. Archos mid-sized tablet that resembles a UMPC
  3. Large Pegatron tablet that looked like it was meant for reading full-sized newspaper and magazine folios

However, these slate devices were basically just full Windows 7 PCs in a small form factor with touchscreen functionality and no hardware keyboard. There wasn't anything particularly innovative about them, even though the hardware designs were very attractive.

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While the Slate PC demo was in the middle of the presentation and was certainly a featured segment for Ballmer, it was not a knock-out punch type of announcement. It was more of a shiny-new-thing announcement, and it shared a crowded spotlight with other Microsoft talk about Windows PCs, Microsoft Auto, and Xbox 360.

It would have been tough for anything to live up to the hype that developed over the past 24 hours. The New York Times claimed that Microsoft was preparing to announce a product in partnership with Hewlett-Packard that would "be touted as a multimedia whiz with e-reader and multi-touch functions." The Wall Street Journal's Kara Swisher threw cold water on that idea, saying Microsoft would simply be showing off its existing Windows 7 tablet functionality on new HP tablet hardware. The back-and-forth between the two rival publications helped created an atmosphere of expectation for the Ballmer keynote.

Adding to the anticipation, the event was delayed by 25 minutes for "power problems." When Ballmer did finally make it out to the stage he said a couple things in his introduction that helped fuel the anticipation. He said, "We want to focus on the ever-evolving PC tonight" and also remarked that he wanted to talk about natural user interface (NUI) and the progress Microsoft is making in that area. While the NUI stuff refers partly to Project Natal (Microsoft's new gaming interface), attendees couldn't help but wonder if this also referred to the new tablet, especially since the Apple slate is rumored to have an innovative new UI.

You can watch Ballmer's full three-minute discussion of the Slate PC in the video clip below:


Jason Hiner is Editor in Chief of TechRepublic and Long Form Editor of ZDNet. He writes about the people, products, and ideas changing how we live and work in the 21st century. He's co-author of the book, Follow the Geeks.


It's very nice better than kindle and stylish design than Netbook, What's about price ?


I cann't see neither what daily use could be implemented on those new devices, I mean for the average user. May be for some particular cases like it has been already mentioned here like restaurants, warehouses, drugstores, may for teachers or even for people doing some kind of public presentation. But I also fail in watching the future of these devices on a daily use base. May be the daily/common use of these 'gadgets' will depend directly on the type of tasks, these devices allow the user to do. Who knows... just the time could make it clear.


I am not excited with this even though I like Windows 7. I believe Android would make a perfect OS for a tablet PC. Imagine running Android on this thing with accelerometer and a sleek looking tablet with the Sense UI also running.


For others? Yes. I see it (probably in a larger implementation for space and readability) as possibly a tool for teachers to use in a classroom setting with the right software made available. I don't think it's a good option vs. the current mobile products for the inventory/warehousing industry. Several manufacturers already have more than adequate products in that sector, and this product really offers nothing over them. For me? No. Some of the concepts that are "slick" in touch technology seem stupid. It takes me longer to figure out how to flip through multiple pages to get to something in a document with touch-motion, than it does just to click the next page arrow or scroll arrow. I'll still stick to a laptop. Although, I like the 15" ICD Android model that nVidia's CEO has been using and that they showed at CES now. But, I bet it'd cost $3k or more. lol


there are many applications that i can think of that this new slate pc form factor would be ideal for. If used with a stylus it would be great for jotting down notes in almost any situation , school , meetings , troubleshooting and then you have a digital copy of the note just taken. Not to mention ebooks and the ability to purchase more within the software. portable video displays. Taking orders in restaurants , customer surveys , easy access to the internet etc.. i really do think this is a great idea and maybe it will get some criticisms but hey didn't someone say who would need computers ?


I can see how it could be nice for work-related things i.e. warehouses, restaurants, UPS-guy and such.. but i fail to see what people would use it for in every day life, as there are products like this already being used, but i still cant see why i would want one for myself.. If someone could tell me would make the next 6months of spamming tech news about products like this more understandable :)

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