Get ready for a slew of slates with Windows 7 on 'em. That's the gist of what Steve Ballmer announced at the Worldwide Partner Conference yesterday, according to ZDNet's Mary-Jo Foley.
The Microsoft CEO reportedly promised that Asus, Dell, Samsung, Toshiba, and Sony will all have Windows 7-powered slate devices out "in the coming months." Although we wouldn't be surprised to see some iPad clones, Ballmer also promised diversity. The Win7 slates "will be available at a variety of price points and in a variety of form factors — with keyboards, touch only, dockable, able to handle digital ink, etc," Foley writes.
We already know all about one of those slates: the Asus Eee Pad EP121, which we got to ogle in person at Computex last month. That device sounded pretty cool in theory; it's supposed to have Consumer Ultra-Low Voltage guts and a dock attachment that turns it into a laptop, all the while adding storage and battery life. Asus told us it didn't plan to have the EP121 out until next year's Consumer Electronics Show, though, and the prototype didn't work.
If Asus' competitors plan to have Win7 slates out earlier, I would expect them to go with a more simple concept—say a conventional iPad-like device with a low-power Atom processor, some RAM, some flash storage, a battery, and a multi-touch display. Pine Trail Atoms seem like a logical choice for such products, although getting the right battery life, weight, and form factor without making Windows 7 feel sluggish could be a challenge.