Microsoft (NASDAQ: MSFT) CEO Steve Ballmer touted new Windows tablet devices from more than a dozen manufacturers at a conference on Monday, suggesting that the Redmond-based software giant is eager to counteract the growth of Apple’s (NASDAQ: AAPL) iPad,
New tablet or pad computers running Microsoft’s Windows 7 operating system are in the works from Acer, Dell, Samsung, Toshiba, Sony and several other PC manufacturers, said Ballmer at the company’s annual partner conference in Washington, D.C., which was streamed live on the web.
“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,” said Ballmer. “This is a terribly important area for us.”
Apple launched the iPad back in April and has already sold more than 3 million units worldwide. Many analysts are predicting that Apple will sell between 5 million and 10 million iPad units this year and as many as 20 million iPads in 2011.
A notable exception to Ballmer’s list of partners building Windows 7 tablets was Hewlett Packard, which scrapped plans to build a Windows 7 based tablet in order to build slate devices powered by Palm Inc.’s WebOS, which was bought by Hewlett Packard earlier in the yaer.