Ballmer: Windows 7 slates are coming

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.

Asus’ Eee Pad EP121. Source: Asus.

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.

Comments closed
    • eitje
    • 10 years ago

    I’ve been using a Motion LE1600 tablet running Windows 7 for over a year now (since well into the Beta portion of W7). Prior to that, it used Windows XP Tablet PC 2005.

    It has 1 GB of RAM, and a 30 GB 1.8″ HDD. *[

      • jdaven
      • 10 years ago

      What kind of battery life are you getting? And from the battery life duration, what kinds of task are you able to complete (i.e. rendering websites with flash, watching video, playing games, composing documents, etc.)?

      Also, what are the limitations on the kinds of applications you can install? Since it’s windows 7, can you install any x86 application like Photoshop or are you restricted to a certain kind of application and the number of concurrently open applications?

      • Corrado
      • 10 years ago

      How can you say that, at $1700, its even a viable competitor?

        • jdaven
        • 10 years ago

        Whoa, that thing he’s talking about costs $1700. Okay, I take back all my questions. That product is one big can of FAIL without quantifying it in any meaningful way.

          • no51
          • 10 years ago

          Seems to be decent when it first came out in 2005.

        • eitje
        • 10 years ago

        Oh sorry, I thought we were talking about Windows 7 running on tablets.

        I didn’t realize price was relevant to whether or not Windows 7 will be usable on a tablet.

    • Spotpuff
    • 10 years ago

    Please, no more atom based PCs. They are awful.

      • burntham77
      • 10 years ago

      I much prefer the low power AMD Neo chips.

    • ShadowTiger
    • 10 years ago

    Does anybody know if any company has came up with a touch screen that is as good as the Apple ones? I remember the tests against the Nexus 1 and other phones and Apple was much more accurate to read the touch input.

    • herothezero
    • 10 years ago

    Anyone else in the room that doesn’t give a rat’s ass about the introduction of even more limited functionality computing devices?

    Anyone? Bueller?

    • jdaven
    • 10 years ago

    What about the idea of a Linux based tablet? After the first netbooks came with Linux (a much much much better configuration) and MS used their monopoly powers to crush that idea, I haven’t seen Linux of any flavor even suggested for a Tablet. Desktop Windows is just not right for the tablet market. WebOS, iOS, Android, Windows Mobile Phone 7 (sheesh that’s a mouth full) and a custom flavor of Linux are. So many choices yet MS will not get out of the way. Consumer losses again. 🙁

      • ironoutsider
      • 10 years ago

      In which way would the consumer lose? MS would put out a product that competes with the maxipad and opens the market for competition. It would also be noted that the device would be easily able to run Linux in flavor of your choice. Try doing that with a Kotexpad. Apart from that, couple a device like this with decent graphics and it might not be uncommon to see people playing WOW or their favorite games on a platform that already supports gaming really well. I love linux myself and would probably use the netbook remix of the latest ubuntu on a device like this, but what i’m trying to get at is that we choices if MS gets into the market. I’m highly doubtful they would dominate the market though.

        • jdaven
        • 10 years ago

        The same way consumers lost when MS pitched a fit about Linux on the first generation of netbooks. They used their influence to stop all Linux shipping netbooks and replaced the OS with windows.

        Please try to find a single netbook on the market right now with Linux installed. That’s how the consumer loses.

        Remember it’s not capitalism, it’s who you know!

          • WaltC
          • 10 years ago

          /[

            • no51
            • 10 years ago

            These haters are so indoctrinated in their distaste for M$ that they seem to completely ignore the possibility that Windows may actually be /[

          • pedro
          • 10 years ago

          l[

          • LovermanOwens
          • 10 years ago

          What are you talking about jdaven? MS didn’t make netbook makers get rid of Linux, consumers at first picked up the Linux netbooks, tried them out, and then returned them to get MS based netbooks. It wasn’t MS it was Linux’s inability to establish itself as a commerical brand.

        • PeterD
        • 10 years ago

        A bit stupid, ain’t it? Buying a W7 tablet to put Linux on it. Why would you pay that W7 if you wouldn’t use it?

      • ludi
      • 10 years ago

      I abandoned the Linux/netbook concept for the same reason a lot of other people did: The UI was just a bit rough around the corners and I couldn’t maintain optimal compatibility with the Office documents that I use for work, play, and everything in between.

        • sweatshopking
        • 10 years ago

        couple things.
        1. android is linux.
        2. linux does not, check around, manage power as well as windows does. you put xp on any one of those linux netbooks, battery life improved.

        I love the F out of linux. android will be the linux for mobile. Ubuntu is fun, i personally love it, but i don’t see it really making that much of a dent in windows/unix’s sales. android can, and is.

          • jdaven
          • 10 years ago

          I don’t doubt your information but do you have any links pointing to battery life tests between the different OSes (Windows and Linux). I thought that Linux was open enough and configurable enough to customize the installation to the device in order to save battery, optimize performance, etc.

          And if true, what is limiting the use of Linux for battery sensitive applications?

      • burntham77
      • 10 years ago

      I would love a slate PC with Linux on it. That would be a perfect fit.

      • dpaus
      • 10 years ago

      But, but… WebOS and Android /[

    • ronch
    • 10 years ago

    So after the Netbook craze, there’s the tablet craze. What next? I’m wondering what the boys in lab coats will try to come up with next. Flying saucers perhaps.

      • jdaven
      • 10 years ago

      Shall we stop technological progress for the sake of not releasing one type of product after another?

        • OneArmedScissor
        • 10 years ago

        Apples and 747s.

        • axeman
        • 10 years ago

        I’d prefer technical progress that isn’t solely focused on one product after the other to keep consumers on the treadmill of buying new devices every x months and tossing the old ones, speaking in general terms. There is nothing remarkable about a device that we’ve been wanting for 15 years and have just now begun to see practical advancement on. iPad -> Star Trek data pad.

        edit: nevermind that, the idea is as old as Star Wars.

        • WaltC
        • 10 years ago

        So…when is using a (by-comparison) dog-slow cpu running a cell-phone OS (so old itself in concept and execution that it had to be updated to multitask), in a portable device with a touchscreen bound to get really dirty fairly quickly, and in a package so hardware-limited in comparison to laptop computers in general that it is only capable of running net-book like software requiring low-res display and no more than paltry cpu power—when is something like the iPad considered to be “technological progress”?

        Only thing “new” about the iPad is the package it comes in–everything else in terms of concept is pretty much off-the-shelf and been-here-for-awhile. It’s a “fad”…calling it “progress” in general is I think stretching it…;)

        • PeterD
        • 10 years ago

        Would be a good idea. Would save money, and… TIME! Always upgrading, sidegrading, downgrading…. Migrating, transgrating, what-ever-grating…
        And in the end, you do the same as in the beginning.
        BTW: lots of people buying the iPad using it for games. It’s just another toy. Looks great. Nice packaging. I’ll buy one! And because I can’t do anything with it, I’ll use it for games.

      • burntham77
      • 10 years ago

      Finding the “perfect” portable device is fun process to watch as long as you don’t buy them.

    • Corrado
    • 10 years ago

    Haven’t Windows based tablets been promised for the past 6-7 months already? And Linux ones? And Android ones? Where are they? They all seem to be cancelled (HP Slate, Courier, Notion Ink), are released and terrible (JooJoo, Archos), or just vaporware. Where are they?

    Everyone talked about the Apple Tablet for YEARS so its not like these other companies got caught with their pants down. How hard could it be to blow an Android phone up to 7-9″ and remove the phone capabilities (or not if you want a 3G connection). The hardware is already there (Hummingbird, SnapDragon, the Evo 4G, Droid X, Galaxy S), the screens exist (iPad, Netbooks), the software exists (Android, WebOS)… so whats taking so long? Why do the Android tablets out there have antiquated, terrible versions of Android on them without the Marketplace enabled? Yes, Archos, I’m looking at you.

    Sooooo, but the time something comes out to ‘beat’ the iPad as it currently exists, it will be refreshed and they’ll have to go back to the drawing board a second time? By the time these come out and mature to the point of true out of the box usability, I’ll have been using my iPad for a year, or getting ready to upgrade to an iPad 2G or whatever.

      • sweatshopking
      • 10 years ago

      notion ink isnt cancelled, just delayed thanks to tegra 2

        • Corrado
        • 10 years ago

        They cancelled pre-orders and rumors have been saying its just plain old not happening.

    • GodsMadClown
    • 10 years ago

    Desktop OS != Tablet OS. Among other things, the screen is smaller and my fingers are not a mouse pointer. Android and PalmOS are more interesting, and their ARM compatibility make longer battery life possible. I’d be interested to see Tegra 2 running one of these operating systems.

      • FuturePastNow
      • 10 years ago

      A bigger problem is the applications, no Windows app is designed to be used on a touchscreen like this. They all have tiny buttons and actions that cannot easily be done with a finger.

      • link626
      • 10 years ago

      they just need a Windows 7 jumbo buttons option.

    • kamikaziechameleon
    • 10 years ago

    7 inch screen with tegra two running android and 12 hours of battery life @ $300.

    that is what I want, either that or …

    a culv dual core processor with 4 gb of ram win7 mobile a 12 inch screen and 4 -8 hours of battery life @ $700-900

    • PeterD
    • 10 years ago

    So, MS also want to have a piece of the cake.

      • Grigory
      • 10 years ago

      Yeah, why not? Now that the Apple zombies paved the way by making tablet PCs (well, the Apple version of a tablet “PC”) popular, why not market a non-Apple product? I personally would much rather buy a tablet PC with Windows than an iPad and I can’t be the only one.

      • 5150
      • 10 years ago

      The cake is a lie.

        • sweatshopking
        • 10 years ago

        YOUR MOM IS A LIE. because i’m actually your mother. seriously. the woman you know and love should be me! 5150 come to your mommy, my sweet baby!!

          • ronch
          • 10 years ago

          Oh boy, this thread has gotten weird.

    • Shining Arcanine
    • 10 years ago

    Doesn’t Windows 7 require something like 20GB of RAM? How are they fitting that onto a slate machine that uses flash?

      • kadji.kahn
      • 10 years ago

      Windows 7 requires less ram than Vista. It works fine on netbooks. Jesus where the hell did you get 20GB Ram?

        • marvelous
        • 10 years ago

        He’s probably talking about how much storage you would need not ram

      • Xenolith
      • 10 years ago

      Only needs 2 GB of RAM. Some tablets will have mechanical drives in them instead of solid state.

        • cygnus1
        • 10 years ago

        It’ll boot fine with 512MB. 2GB is more than enough for tablet purposes… watching video, simple apps and web browsing…

      • jdaven
      • 10 years ago

      He either meant to say 2GB or RAM or 20GB of hard drive space. Both points are worthy of discussion since tablets have limited room for RAM slots and come with small disk sizes.

        • ludi
        • 10 years ago

        A properly-executed tablet concept shouldn’t have RAM slots at all. At most, it might offer a couple micro-SD slots for storage expansion, next to the SIM slot. Everything else should be soldered to the system board and the space savings put toward making the device thinner and lighter.

          • jdaven
          • 10 years ago

          Exactly. That is why Windows is not a good fit. To have a good Windows ‘experience’, you need RAM and disk space. Think about Windows 7 running on 256/512 MB RAM and a microSD card. I shudder to think.

          Now running Windows Mobile Phone 7 (why that is the name I’ll never know) OS will probably be fast and snapping with a smooth UI because it is tailored made for the kinds of components you describe.

          But Ballmer et al. don’t even know if they can pull off WMP7 to any success and they already have licensed copies of Windows 7 just waiting to be installed. What does the consumer get in this case? Windows 7 on hardware that is about 1/4th the performance of an entry level netbook.

          Ugh!!!

          Oh and don’t forget, Windows 7 needs x86 hardware. So ARM is out. You are stuck with Intel Atom which Intel doesn’t even know will successful on small portables like smartphones, MIDS and tablets. So proven OSes like Android, iOS on stable proven ARM based hardware is going to be given up for Windows 7 on a stripped down Intel Atom chip with little RAM and disk space.

          Color me not impressed. Why do you think HP canceled the Slate and bought Palm? They knew that the 5 hour battery life Windows 7 with HP touch on an Atom/IGP chip was going to suck balls next to the 10 hour battery life iOS with ARM/PowerVR iPad. It’s pretty simple really.

            • tay
            • 10 years ago

            Well put. Makes sense to me.

    • PeterD
    • 10 years ago

    I’m not excited about this development, because I have already lots of Windows crap around me. I’ld prefer an Ubuntu tablet.

      • Xenolith
      • 10 years ago

      I suspect you can install Ubuntu on these. Does Ubuntu have good touch support?

        • PeterD
        • 10 years ago

        Dpn’t know.
        Actually, I don’t car either.

          • tay
          • 10 years ago

          Then what do you plan on doing with an Ubuntu tablet? I am glad to see the me too products are coming to force Apple to innovate. Then I can buy ipad version 2 which will be better =)

    • JustAnEngineer
    • 10 years ago

    I’m excited about this development, not because I want a tablet, but because I believe that the touchscreen could eventually move into mainstream desktop applications.

      • sweatshopking
      • 10 years ago

      yah but then you have to sit REALLY close. I like my mouse. i dont want a touch screen desktop

        • blastdoor
        • 10 years ago

        Yeah, a touchscreen on a desktop seems like a niche. You can’t really replace the mouse for most desktop users.

          • dropshadow
          • 10 years ago

          remote control for htpc…

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