Microsoft chief Steve Ballmer boldly proclaimed that Windows 7 tablet PCs will be available in time for Christmas.
Addressing an audience at the London School of Economics, Ballmer said, “As a company, we need to cover all form factors.” He later added, “We’ve done work on a Windows tablet, and you’ll see slates with Windows on from this Christmas.”
It is unclear if Ballmer was referring only to the UK market, but speculation suggests Microsoft may make clear its tablet plans at an event on October 11th in New York City.
Ballmer and Analysts Disagree
Ballmer’s announcement in London is in stark contrast to analyst’s predictions published just last week, which suggested Windows 7 tablets would not be released until mid 2011, at which Microsoft may release Windows 8 tablet instead.
Business Insider quoted an analyst at Jeffries as claiming, “Windows 7 is currently not supported on Qualcomm’s popular SnapDragon processor, and Intel’s low power Oak Trail processor (part of the Atom family) for tablets is not due out until March 2011.” The analyst added, “Microsoft could introduce Windows-based tablets on the existing Atom chips, but the risks associated with the introduction of a less optimized system outweigh the risks of waiting for the right technology to become available.”
Despite the prediction, two videos of a slim tablet PC labeled the “HP Slate” appeared on YouTube before being abruptly pulled by the user. The video showed a device similar in size to the iPad, running Windows 7. The user claimed he had an advanced prototype of a business tablet, and HP also planned to release a consumer model soon.
This is not the first time Ballmer has promised Windows 7 tablets. In a meeting with analysts and press in July, the Microsoft CEO claimed creating tablets with Windows 7 is “Job Number 1,” and that the devices will be available “really, really soon or just really, pretty soon.”