Breakdown and full video clip of Ballmer's 'Slate PC' launch at CES

Breakdown and full video clip of Ballmer's 'Slate PC' launch at CES

Summary: 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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Steve Ballmer unveils the HP Slate tablet

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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:

Topics: Laptops, Hardware, Microsoft, Mobility, Operating Systems, Software, Tablets, Windows

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  • Wow

    That's pretty neat. I don't care if you love Windows or hate it, that is still pretty neat.
    The one and only, Cylon Centurion
  • So were is the Courier? MS?

    What's shown is nothing different from the original Tablet PC Gates's been pushing since 2001. The only difference with regards to the HP partnership is it now does multi-Touch. From Tablet PC's/ to Slate computers/to Pen Computers/to UMPCs/ to Laptops screen that spins. It is still the same failed concept of full blown Windows shrunken to fit on a smaller screen. I mean why even waste time showing this instead of the Courier? (unless the Courier is nothing more than someone's rendered dream).
    • No, it's a real piece of tech that exists now.

      Not vapourware allegedly running a cut down mobile OS.

      Apple just got smoked here.
      Sleeper Service
      • A comedian you are not

        so don't quit your day job.

        Saying Apple got smoked without seeing the rumored or real Apple "iSlate" is totally asinine. [b]IF[/b] Apple does produce a tablet, it could very well fail (like the Cube) but until something is actually out there, it's pointless and brain dead to slam a non-existent device.

        Typically, MS didn't show something because it doesn't have anything and once again has it's copiers on standby to see what Apple (and other innovators) introduce.

        Funny to see all these companies falling over themselves to supposedly "beat" Apple to the punch. Just as Apple bashers have dissed Apple for years for paying attention to design, OEMs are now gushing with various colours and materials. How hypocritical and ironic.

        Are you related to (are) Zealot by any chance???
        • I'll make it simple for you.

          Microsoft can demonstrate a 'slate' device that runs a full desktop OS which, I'm sure you realise, means it runs full desktop applications which, again I'm sure you'll realise, there are millions of for Windows.


          Apple on the other hand have declared nothing other than the usual well placed whispers to the usual sympathetic audience.

          We don't know:

          1) If it run Mobile OS X or OS X?
          2) Does it come in different sizes?
          3) What functionality does it have?

          In other words, it's vapourware and yet look at the coverage it gets.

          It's not zealotry, it's reality. Frankly, the hype has to stop.
          Sleeper Service
          • "It runs full desktop applications"...!?

            If it runs full desktop applications over Windows 7, what will be battery time?

            3 minutes?
          • No idea.

            But that's certainly one of the issues any slate device will face.
            Sleeper Service
          • Too simple for you?

            "We don't know:"...

            Which was the point of my post.

            How can you possibly say the HP/MS tablet "smoked" any possible offering from Apple when it's all speculation and as you so accurately stated "We don't know:"

            And it can't really be classed as "vapourware"...

            Wikipedia... [b]"Vaporware describes a product, usually software, that has been announced by a developer during or before its development, if there is significant doubt whether the product will actually be released. The term is usually applied to products which fail to emerge after having well-exceeded the period of development time that was initially claimed or would normally be expected for the development cycle of a similar product, or when the release date is delayed repeatedly without adequate evidence of specific unforeseen hurdles that cause these delays."[/b]

            Apple hasn't officially announced any "tablet" (all rumour, much like the pre-iPhone hype) so how could it be delayed or promised and not delivered? MS may do demos of "maybe" products (eg Courier) but Apple doesn't usually show something unless it's ready to deliver, whether in days or months (eg, original iPhone intro in January, delivered in June) but it usually does deliver in a reasonable time frame.

            It's not reality (yet, if ever), it's your MS zealotry.

            Wait until the Jan 26/27 Apple event, then make your Apple slams, warranted or not.
          • So, where can I buy the tablet ...

            ... that Monkey Boy was touting --- TODAY?
            brian ansorge
      • Pull the Courier out and show the class?!

        Please. How in the world could a 10 year old Tablet concept that failed many times over going to smoke anything? Cause it now can do Touch? Have you seen the very small icons on the screen when <b>"MR. Rogers redux"</b> was holding it up? Looks like it's the same old tablet that's made for Pen not fingers/touch. Now Either this whole presentation was just smoke and mirrors because MS is worried about Apple and decided to the the usual vaporware show, or we are going to see a new generation of failings....
        • So, by that logic...

          ...any iSlate will be a Newton redux and fail dismally?

          Come back when you have an argument rather than a taste for sour grapes.

          MS beat Apple to the punch and they did it quietly, without hype and with dignity. Deal with it.
          Sleeper Service
          • re: So, by that logic...

            "...any iSlate will be a Newton redux and fail dismally?"

            Was the iPhone also Newton redux? Because seem to me that the iPhone is making a killing, it's not a failure! And is closer to the Newton than any Tablet will be. Just trying to follow your confused logic there ;-)
          • Thanks for proving my argument....

            ...something that fails the first time round can win the second time round.

            Do you want me to beat you up some more or are we done here?
            Sleeper Service
          • Don't talk tripe!

            Microsoft and their partners [b]have done nothing new[/b] or remotely
            ground breaking! What part of this do you not understand?! It's not
            difficult. They are rehashing the "same old" and shilling it as "all new".
            Smaller form factor? Big deal.
            A none mouse Cow Herd
          • As, indeed, are Apple.

            Thanks for losing gracefully.
            Sleeper Service
          • So, by *your* logic ...

            ... I can buy the tablet that MS "beat Apple to the punch with" ... where?


            Oh, I can't?




            Or Shill.

            Take your pick.
            brian ansorge
          • MS did Jack*

            HP build the device and slapped Win7 on it. What did MS do?
        • Clearly you've not actually used a Win 7 tablet

          I have Win7 running on my HP tx2 tablet - works wonderfully

          If you're dyslexic or have poor eye hand control you can change the size of the icons but I have no trouble touch navigating it

          The pen only tablet concept of the 90s was all they could muster at the time - not because of MS, but because of the limited HW implementations available

          What do people expect from an "iSlate"? What more than Mac OS in a humongous iPhone shell do you think it could be?

          Just because Apple makes a Mac version of a tablet computer, it's suddenly NOT a modern refresh of the "10 year old tablet"?

          • Guess it never allured me....

            "Just because Apple makes a Mac version of a tablet computer, it's suddenly NOT a modern refresh of the "10 year old tablet"?"

            I don't know what Apple would bring. But if Apple/Jobs were to ever walk on stage with the same tired concept we've seen since 10 years ago (only now touch), and without trying to transform it, I would be just as hard on them. The Slate from MS is not a modern refresh, it's slapping a lipstick on a dead pig.
      • Gullible

        No specs were presented and according to other reports we can expect a PROTOTYPE later this year. So what the heck was he showing?

        Look, putting a tiny form factor mother board and a battery inside a pretty box with a 10" multitouch screen means nothing. Any decent hobbyist can basically do that.

        This announcement was a total flop.