Microsoft Launches Windows 7 Tablet PC at CES

Dennis Faas's picture

Apple's much-hyped tablet computer could be on sale within a few months. But now Microsoft has responded by promoting its own tablet PC in partnership with HP.

The Windows 7 Tablet: by HP

Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer showed off the device as part of his major address to the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) Wednesday night. The computer is effectively a Windows 7 notebook but in the form of a single touchscreen rather than a separate keyboard and display. Pricing isn't confirmed, though reports are that it will be sold for less than $500.

The new device is produced by HP, and not Microsoft. Ballmer also showed off portable computers from Archos and Pegatron running Windows.

Kindle Software On Board

Perhaps the most intriguing element of the demonstration came when Ballmer flicked through the pages of a book using Amazon's Kindle software. However, that doesn't necessarily mean the device will act as a fully-functioning Kindle. Instead, it very likely is running the special Kindle software for PCs in the same way as any desktop computer can do.

That would mean the device could only download content through a WiFi connection rather than over a cellphone network, taking away one of the key selling points of the Kindle.

Two Screen Tablet: Touch Keyboard

Another point of disappointment with the device was that it was not the previously leaked Courier. That's an in-development machine from Microsoft which has two relatively large screens joined by a hinge. This means it can act as facing pages for reading a book or magazine, can be used in landscape mode to give a combination of monitor and touchscreen keyboard, and can be folded completely to produce a tablet computer. (Source:

The Courier project was, however, an example of skunkworks. That's a name given to projects run by small teams within a corporation which are designed more for experimentation and trying out unusual ideas without going through the full, formal developmental process.

HP Device Could Help Sell Windows 7

Though the HP device is seen as something of a disappointment given that it doesn't really introduce any new technology, it could act as a strong promotional tool for Windows 7. By showing that even a sleek and ultra-portable machine can run smoothly on the new operating system, Microsoft will have further evidence that it has overcome the problems afflicting Vista on low-end machines. (Source:

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