Determined to steal Apple's thunder ahead of their tablet launch, Microsoft and Hewlett Packard have shown off their own touchscreen 'slate PC' at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas.
2010 has long been predicted to be the 'year of the tablet' and Microsoft boss Steve Ballmer was keen to show that Microsoft would be leading the way in launching 'slate PCs', that are said to bridge the gap between laptops and smartphones.
Apple are planning the launch of their device later in month, with both going on sale later in the year. Microsoft is actually planning to make sure they stay ahead of Apple by launching several 'slate PCs' with different partners such as Archos and Pegatron, as well as HP.
Whilst both Microsoft's and Apple's devices have been massively hyped up by the online community, actually very little is known about their specs. Neither have been officially named, being either referred to as 'tablets' or 'slate PCs' and their technical abilities are unknown. It was however confirmed in Las Vegas that Microsoft's tablet will run Windows 7 and Kindle.
During the presentation, in front of an audience of over 3500 press, bloggers, analysts and industry experts, Ballmer showed the prototype being used mainly as an eReader. While he described it as a 'beautiful little product', the fact that so little is known about the device meant that many were left disappointed.
Speaking to the BBC, Paul Miller, senior associate editor of technology website Engadget, said, "What we saw confirmed my worst suspicions that this is your standard Microsoft software in a slate form."
"It's an interesting product in itself, but Microsoft could have gone further. It's not anything new in terms of software and that is what you really need to make a device like this make people want to buy it."
If anything, it built more anticipation for Apple's product - currently dubbed the iSlate - as the Mac company are known for blowing all expectations out of the water.
"Apple could do for the tablet market what it did for smartphones with the iPhone," analyst David Daoud of IDC told USA Today.
Whilst everyone is trying to currently beat Apple in the smartphone market, it seems tech companies are determined not to be left out in the cold this time round. However, if Apple launch another game-changing device, then it is possible they could corner the market, a sector that is already rumoured to be worth close to a billion dollars.
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