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Microsoft's Ballmer in tablet panic over iPad success

Microsoft's CEO is feeling the pressure of the iPad's success, saying that Apple have "sold certainly more than I'd like them to sell"

Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer is feeling the pressure of the iPad's success, saying that Apple have "sold certainly more than I'd like them to sell."

Though Ballmer is not exactly known for his composure when giving presentations, when speaking at a meeting of financial analysts, he sounded distinctly worried. He described the release of a Windows-based tablet competitor as "job one urgency", according to CNNMoney. Ballmer went on express his chagrin that he had "been to too many meetings with journalists struggling to set up iPads for notes".

A future Windows-tablet fleet would use Windows 7 and Intel CPUs, and come in all shapes and sizes across many different manufacturers. Ballmer said the tablet market was "not one size fits all". The Microsoft chief compared this to what his company did with netbooks, introducing a version of its latest OS specially adapted for low-power laptops and usurping Linux as top netbook OS.

Microsoft has been trying to introduce tablet computers for years with practically no reward from home users, and only moderate success in tablet-handheld hybrids. These have most often run a form of Windows Mobile, aimed at warehouse managers, doctors and the like. In the month following the iPad's European release, tablet sales for the quarter tripled, catapulting the iPad into a realm of success Microsoft could only dream of in nearly a decade of trying.

Though Steve was coy about giving exact dates, he did describe the release of future Windows tablets as being "as soon as they're ready". He added, "No one is sleeping at the switch here. We have got to make things happen with Windows 7 on slates. We're in the process of doing that as we speak."

Ballmer's words come not long after HP decided to shrink away from competing with Apple directly, now planning to release the long-gestating Slate, a tablet running Windows 7 that was to go head-to-head with the iPad, as an enterprise-oriented device instead.