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Windows tablets in time for Christmas, says Microsoft boss Steve Ballmer

Windows tablet PCs could be in shops before Christmas, according to Microsoft grand poobah Steve Ballmer.

Windows tablet PCs could be in shops before Christmas, according to Steve Ballmer. The Microsoft muckamuck told London students that the company has "done work on a Windows tablet, and you'll see slates with Windows on from this Christmas."

Ballmer dropped the hint in a presentation on cloud computing right here in Blighty at the London School of Economics. The Guardian reports Ballmer went on to admit, "We gotta invent, we gotta create, we gotta do new things. Because our past can be a help and a hindrance."

This may mean Microsoft is close to selling its own hardware, such as the Windows Embedded Compact 7 prototype shown off earlier this year, or a tablet-specific operating system, like BlackBerry's new Tablet OS. There are already a number of tablets in the pipeline running Windows 7, including the spinning Dell Inspiron Duo and dual-booting ViewSonic ViewPad 100, but Windows 7 is a desktop OS and isn't designed for smaller touchscreens.

Ballmer has been making tablet promises all year as he feels the heat of the iPad's success, so we're going to take today's news with a pinch of salt. Before a MicroSlate does arrive, Ballmer said the company is focused on the launch of Windows Phone 7, which finally takes place on 11 October.

How do you think Microsoft will do in the increasingly bloody tablet wars? How can MS differentiate itself from the likes of the BlackBerry PlayBook, Samsung Galaxy Tab and the all-conquering Apple iPad? Stick your thoughts -- and suggestions for possible names -- in the comments, or drop the man himself a line at While you're waiting for the mythical Microsoft tablet, check out the competition with our top-tier tablet showdown.