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Ballmer preempts Jobs with tablet slate trio

Sets record for speech with most Bings

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CES 2010 During his keynote presentation Wednesday evening at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, Nevada, Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer sent a not-too-subtle message to that other Steve, Mr. "CEO of the Decade."

Namely, that as the world waits in salivating suspense for what is increasingly certain to be a late-January unveiling of the oft-rumored Apple tablet, there are a few Windows 7 competitors waiting in the wings.

As we reported Wednesday morning, Ballmer was expected to reveal a tablet-style PC that Microsoft was said to be working on in partnership with HP. And as his hour on stage drew to a close, he did just that, unveiling the device alongside two other tablets - or as Ballmer called them, "slate PCs." There was one from Pegatron and one from Archos.

Of the three, Ballmer lavished most of his affection on the HP prototype, calling it "a beautiful little product" and a "great little PC." Although the HP slate's display appeared to be about 10 inches, Ballmer called it "almost as portable as a phone," adding that it was "as powerful as a PC [and] running Windows 7.

"This emerging category of PCs should really take advantage of the touch and mobility and capabilities of Windows 7, and are perfect, perfect for reading, for surfing the web, and for taking entertainment on the go," he enthused.

Not naming any other specific vendors with which Microsoft is working on slate PCs, Ballmer simply said: "Our OEM partners are doing some great work with slate PCs that'll be rolling into the marketplace this year."

An HP demo video showed the slate PC's user interface accepting multitouch gestures, and Ballmer used the prototype to finger-flip through a couple of pages of Stephenie Meyer's überhit book Twilight using the Kindle PC app and launched a video.

"I think many, many customers are going to be very, very excited about it," Ballmer beamed.

The remainder of Ballmer's keynote was an hour-long Microsoft commercial chock-full of self-congratulatory stats - so many, in fact, that they deserve their own CES keynote version of Harper's Index:

  • Number of Bing users: over 11,000,000
  • Number of times Ballmer said "Bing" in a ten-word description of Bing usage: 6
  • Percentage increase in US PC sales since the introduction of Windows 7: almost 50
  • Percentage increase in US PC sales on Black Friday 2009 compared with the same day in 2008: 33
  • Percentage increase in Windows PC sales during the 2009 holiday season compared with the 2008 season: 50
  • Number of PCs shipped in 2009: nearly 300,000,000
  • Percentage increase in 2010 PC sales predicted by Gartner Research: over 12
  • Rank of popularity of PCs among "smart devices": 1
  • Rank of Windows 7's rate of sales compared with other operating systems: 1
  • Percentage of satisfaction among early adopters of Windows 7: 94
  • Number of models of Windows 7–capable PCs: over 1,400
  • Number of Windows 7–specific applications: over 800,000
  • Number of Windows applications overall: over 4,000,000
  • Number of Xbox 360s sold worldwide: over 39,000,000
  • Number of games sold for the Xbox: over 500,000,000
  • Amount of money spent on Xbox games: over $20,000,000,000
  • Number in the "global middle class", aka the consumer-electronics market: 1,000,000,000
  • Number to which that will grow in "the next several decades": 4,000,000,000

It should be noted that Ballmer did not elaborate on such nebulous concepts as "satisfaction" and "early adopters" or on what percentage of the "global middle class" would "Bing, Bing, Bing!" in the next several decades. ®

Bootnote

Ballmer's keynote began 26 minutes late due to a power outage that also disabled some of the planned demo equipment. One can only assume that hanging out with Mr. Steven Anthony Ballmer during that downtime was a less than pleasant experience.

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