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At its Worldwide Partner Conference on Monday Microsoft Corp. said that it had teamed up with numerous hardware manufacturers in a bid to release a dozen of slate-type personal computer based on Windows 7 operating system (OS) later this year. Among peculiarities of the forthcoming tablets, the software giant names ability to run Office along with other popular applications.

“This year one of the most important things that we will do in the smart device category is really push forward with Windows 7-based slates and Windows 7 phones. 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. This is a terribly important area for us. We are hardcore about this,” said Steve Ballmer, chief executive officer of Microsoft, at the conference, reports AFP.

Microsoft said that Asustek Computer, Dell, Samsung, Sony and Toshiba will release slates powered by Windows 7 OS, but declined to elaborate about actual specifications. Still, according to the head of the company, those tablets – unlike Apple’s iPad – will be powerful enough to run applications designed for personal computers (not mobile phones), namely Microsoft Office.

Although Windows 7 supports touch-screen input, its interface is not exactly tailored for it. Moreover, the interface of programs like Office is definitely not friendly to touch-screens. It remains to be seen whether slates running conventional software will actually be in demand since it is obvious that notebooks will provide better experience in general.

“They will come with keyboards, they'll come without keyboards—there'll be many devices. But they will run Windows 7, they will run Office, they will accept ink- as well as touch-based input,” said Mr. Ballmer.

Based on the current situation with tablet PC development, there will be two distinct types of slates coming to market: very light machines with ARM inside that cannot offer high performance as well as slightly bulkier products that bring the power of x86 and Windows operating system. Unfortunately, at present there are not a lot of hardware to power advanced slates. Intel Corp.'s Moorestown system-on-chip cannot run Windows, whereas Advanced Micro Devices' Fusion family of products - which integrate x86 Bobcat cores along with graphics cores on the same piece of silicon - are only due in 2011. Modern chips, such as Intel Atom, either consume too much energy or are not powerful enough to run Windows 7.

Tags: Microsoft, Windows, , Intel, , AMD, x86, , Ontario, Fusion, Moorestown

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