Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer demonstrated a new touch-screen, tablet-style computer from Hewlett-Packard Co. on Wednesday night, the first of several such devices expected to be unveiled this month.
The tablet – also known as a slate, a one-piece portable computer without a physical keyboard – was one of several new PCs Ballmer showed off as he delivered Microsoft Corp.’s customary keynote on the eve of the International Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas.
During the talk, which was shown live over the Web, Ballmer said the HP tablet will be available later this year. He also gave a glimpse of two similar devices from Archos and Pegatron Corp.
Tablet-style computers that run Windows have been available for a decade, but HP’s new machine is bound to draw extra attention thanks to expectations that Apple Inc. will launch a similar device later this month.
Apple, notoriously secretive about upcoming products, has not commented on the matter. But given the iPhone’s success, which propelled competitors to come out with copycat touch-screen phones and centralized “app” stores to sell add-on software, all eyes are on Apple to define what a slate or tablet-style computer should look like and how it will be used.
Microsoft was also set to announce that Natal, new technology that lets video game players control the action by moving their whole bodies instead of using a joystick, will go on sale for the Xbox console in time for this year’s holiday shopping season.