Microsoft head honcho Steve Ballmer confirmed Monday that Windows 7-based tablets will hit the market by the end of the year. He said that nearly a dozen hardware manufacturers are set to launch the devices including Asus, Dell, Samsung, Toshiba, Sony (gasp!) and many more. The news was revealed during Ballmer's opening speech at the Microsoft Worldwide Partner Conference taking place in Washington, D.C. this week.
"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 the audience. "This is a terribly important area for us. We are hardcore about this."
He added that there will be a wide range of devices: some with keyboards, and some without. "They'll be dockable, there will 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."
Outside the five manufacturers listed above, twenty-one additional manufacturers were listed to be working on Windows 7 tablets including Fujitsu, Hewlett-Packard, Lenovo, Panasonic and Pegatron. Although Ballmer revealed an HP slate during the slideshow presentation (and at CES 2010 back in January), currently HP hasn't officially confirmed that the device will ship by the end of the year.
Without a doubt, Microsoft is making its big push in the mobile market in 2010. With Apple's iPad dominating the tablet market and an army of Android-based devices gearing up to fill the second-in-command position, Microsoft has a lot of catching up to do. Ballmer even admitted that the company missed a generation in the smartphone sector, falling behind Apple's iPhone, the Android platform, and RIM's Blackberry platform.
"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. Windows Phone 7 is also slated to hit the market in Q4 2010.