Steve Ballmer; Microsoft CEO indicated a few days back at the Microsoft Worldwide Partner Conference while addressing a crowd of 14,000 people that major partners would be releasing Windows 7 Tablets (slates as he calls them) really soon. He said that Microsoft was “all in” with the slate form factor. Additionally, he also mentioned being prepared for the release of Windows Phone 7 and the many devices that will be using it, although he didn’t go into further details that what’s already out in public.
The slates mentioned will cover many different price points and many different configurations. His announcement mentioned that they would come with keyboards (as in Tablet PCs), plain slates (only screen), dockable slates, accepting digital ink, touch, multi-touch, etc. He specifically stressed the usefulness of these devices in the corporate world, a world that that the iPad has not been able to get into yet.
Microsoft’s strategy seems to be split into two almost opposite moves. On one hand Microsoft is pushing the upcoming slates into the corporate world, while at the same time Windows Phone 7 is going to be pushed into the consumer market. This seems to me risky business, but if it works it will be genius. If this dual-strategy happens to work, we will see a rebirth of Microsoft in the consumer world while at the same time a further strengthen of Microsoft in corporations.
During the presentation one particular slide was presented that pretty much sums it up: It lists 21 partner companies announced to be working on Slates and 7 partners working on Windows Phone 7.