Several hardware makers are teaming up with Microsoft, in an attempt to give Apple a run for its money. They're looking to release a number of Windows-based tablet computers that can compete with Apple's iPad. At least 21 manufacturers were mentioned, including Fujitsu, Hewlett-Packard, Dell, Asus, Toshiba, Sony, Lenovo, and Panasonic.
The news was announced by Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer on Monday, July 12, at the Microsoft Worldwide Partner Conference, "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."
He added, "They'll come with keyboards, they'll come without keyboards, they'll be dockable, there'll be many form factors, many price points, many sizes, but they will all run Windows 7. They will run Windows 7 applications. They will run Office."
Ballmer did admit Microsoft failed with Windows Mobile and is unable to compete with iPhone, Droids, and Blackberrys. On the other hand, he says Windows Phone 7 has received, "great reviews, really quite remarkable reviews." The company's mobile phone partners were listed to include Samsung, Dell, Asus, Toshiba, Garmin, Sony Ericsson, and HTC.
Ballmer also talked at length about cloud computing - Windows Azure - and its "new opportunity." He says cloud enables Microsoft to help customers "streamline their operations and improve their agility." Ballmer also says, "The world of tomorrow is a world of a smart cloud talking to smart devices roam your information across the internet. We are at an inflection point in technology history...for customers, cloud computing creates tremendous value, which translates to massive opportunity for Microsoft and its partners."
According to Microsoft, eBay, Fujitsu, Dell, and HP will be using Windows Azure appliances. Dell says the platform will be useful for delivering cloud services to small and medium-sized businesses.
Other news from Microsoft included news that they've sold 150 million licenses for Windows 7 since its launch in October, 2009.