With all of the latest release of its main cash cows already on the market, Microsoft can afford a small shift in focus. According to Steve Ballmer, Microsoft Chief Executive Officer, the company will start pushing hard Windows 7 phones (devices running Windows Phone 7, not the client OS) and Windows 7 slates. On stage at the Worldwide Partner Conference 2010, Ballmer made it very clear that the focus on the smart device category will be extremely strong, as it is an important product category for the company. Of course, just as it was the case until now, Microsoft will be supplying only the software and not the hardware, per the Apple model.
“This is a terribly important area for us. It's certainly an area where, how do I say it, we feel all of the energy and vigor and push that we have ever felt to innovate, to drive hard, to compete. We know that you as partners are hearing from our joint customers that they have a lot they want to do, not just at home but at work, scenarios in which they believe in the slate as a device, scenarios where they want to embrace the smart phone,” Ballmer said.
Microsoft’s CEO did not offer any specific delivery dates for the upcoming Windows 7 slates. However, he did emphasize that customers will not have to wait for very long, before a range of new products, from multiple original equipment manufacturers will hit store shelves.
“So, over the course of the next several months, you will see a range of Windows 7-based slates that I think you'll find quite impressive,” he said. “They'll come from the people you would expect, from Asus, from Dell, from Samsung, from Toshiba, from Sony. Windows 7-based slates, they'll come with keyboards, they'll come without keyboards. They'll be dockable.”
And just as it is the case for Windows PCs, Windows slates will truly be focused on diversity and consumer choice. The real beauty of Windows-based computers is the fact that customers have a wide range of products to choose from, and find something that best suits their needs. The same will be valid for Windows 7 slates.
“There will be many form factors, many price points, many sizes. But they will run Windows 7. They will run Windows 7 applications. They will run Office. They will accept ink as well as touch-based input. And they will be very good for the kinds of scenarios that all of us are going to see for knowledge workers in the business that we serve that want to have something that works super well at work, but also supports their kind of personal interests as they travel,” Ballmer explained.Follow me on Twitter @MariusOiaga.