Microsoft CEO to Analysts: Slates are 'Job One'

Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer told attendees at the company's annual Financial Analysts Meeting (FAM) at Microsoft headquarters Thursday that succeeding with slate computers is "job one" for the company.

Speaking to leading financial and technology analysts at the company's annual day-long show-and-tell event, Ballmer discussed Microsoft's (NASDAQ: MSFT) plans in consumer technologies and gave particular emphasis to slate (also called tablet) mobile computing devices.

"It is job one urgency around here, nobody's sleeping at this point. So we are working with ... partners, not just to deliver something, but to deliver products that people really want to go buy," Ballmer said.

Although there have been doubts of late that the company had missed the opportunity to provide the operating system for upcoming slate computers, Microsoft received a vote of confidence Wednesday when an HP executive said it would use Windows 7 to power the computer giant's line of slates designed for enterprise customers.

At Microsoft's Worldwide Partner Conference in Washington earlier this month, Ballmer said that there will be Windows 7-powered slate computers available within the next year.

While Apple (NASDAQ: AAPL) is driving plenty of buzz, and the bulk of tablet computer sales, with its iPad, Ballmer said he sees plenty of opportunity for different form factors and alternatives.

"I don't think there is one size that fits all. I don't think everybody wants a slate," Ballmer said during his FAM presentation. "But we have the application base, we have the user familiarity, we have everything on our side if we do things really right," he added.

Ballmer also said the advent of Intel's upcoming "Oak Trail" ultra low-power laptop chips will help Microsoft's slate strategy.

"We'll get a boost sometime after the new year when Intel brings its new ... processor to market. [It's] designed to be lower power [and] lower power leads to longer battery life, no fan, lower kind of noise level, a lot less weight, a lot of things that people like," Ballmer said.

Cloud computing to go

Meanwhile, an earlier speaker Thursday, COO Kevin Turner, discussed Microsoft's cloud computing plans and how they fit into the company's longer-term enterprise strategy.

To reinforce the company's commitment regarding a cloud-based future, Microsoft parked one of its containerized datacenter modules outside the company's conference center for analysts to tour.

Stuart J. Johnston is a contributing writer at InternetNews.com, the news service of Internet.com, the network for technology professionals. Follow him on Twitter @stuartj1000.


Microsoft, iPad, steve ballmer, Financial Analysts Meeting (FAM), slate computers