Ballmer at CES: Windows Slates, Windows 8?

The New York Times's Nick Bilton is reporting that Steve Ballmer's CES keynote next month will include demos of slate computers running Windows 7. Sounds like deja vu all over again: At this year's CES, Ballmer did the same thing. The 2010 Windows slates failed to buck the long tradition of Microsoft products unveiled at Comdex or CES failing to change the world. (At least HP finally released its slate PC.)

This year's slate PCs were basically Windows 7 laptops with touchscreens and the keyboards chopped off. Bilton's story says that the 2011 versions are a bigger departure from Windows notebooks, and, for the that matter, from the iPad. They involve features like slide-out keyboards and user interfaces that differ depending on whether the device is held in landscape or portrait orientation.

I don't wanna pre-judge devices that we don't know much about yet, but if Microsoft figures out a way to make Windows make sense on computers that don't have physical keyboards -- or at least don't assume you'll use one at all times -- I'll be impressed. After all, it's been trying for a decade and had made pretty much zero progress on the whole idea to date.

Meanwhile, the very end of Bilton's article had a tidbit I'm more excited about: It says that Ballmer may also demo Windows 8 during the keynote.

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