Deja vu rumor: Ballmer to showcase "slate" PCs at CES

Microsoft CEO is expected to use his CES keynote to showcase upcoming "slate" PCs - again.

Credit: CNET

Stop me if you've heard this one before.

Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer will take the stage at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas next month to showcase some slate computers (aka tablets) that will promise to wow the geeks who gather for the annual granddaddy of all technology conferences.

That was the headline around this time last year and, of course, we're still waiting for this world-changing tablet PC from Microsoft to surface. Granted, some tablet PCs have been launched since Ballmer held up that HP Slate device from the stage 11 months ago. Only it was Apple that set the bar for tablet computing with its April launch of the iPad back in April. And let's not forget the arrival of the first tablets running Google's Android mobile operating system that are starting to surface.

But Microsoft? We're still waiting.

Microsoft as the modern day Titanic; we all know how that ends

Despite that, the New York Times, citing "people familiar with Microsoft's plans," is reporting that Balmmer will use the CES keynote stage - again - to present "a slew of new slates" that will apparently give Apple's iPad a run for its money. The report says that Ballmer will showcase slates built by partners Samsung and Dell, as well as others.

Not that any of this is confirmed (or that anyone should believe that these products will actually ever surface) but here's what the NYT is reporting:

  • The Samsung device is described as “similar in size and shape to the Apple iPad, although it is not as thin. It also includes a unique and slick keyboard that slides out from below for easy typing.”
  • It will run Windows 7 when in landscape mode, but will also have a layered interface that will appear when the keyboard is hidden and the device is held in a portrait mode.
  • The company believes the workhorse side of the devices will differentiate them from the iPad. An unnamed person is quoted as saying, "The company believes there is a huge market for business people who want to enjoy a slate for reading newspapers and magazines and then work on Microsoft Word, Excel or PowerPoint while doing work."
  • The company is encouraging partners to build HTML5 apps, which will not be sold in an app store but instead will be hosted by the partners on their own web sites, which will be highlighted in a search interface on the slates.
  • No one seems to know if any of these apps would be ready in time for CES.
  • Ballmer "might" demonstrate products running the next Microsoft OS, called Windows 8 - which isn't expected until 2012.

Previous coverage: Ballmer lands keynote at CES 2011 but can he make it to January?