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Dell unveils 10-inch Windows 7 tablet

Promises to safeguard Android's future

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Dell has unveiled a 10-inch Windows 7 tablet that it'll layer in next to its collection of Android fondleslabs.

On Tuesday, the world's third-largest PC maker showed – briefly – what looked like a mock-up of a planned Windows 7 tablet, coming in the next 30 to 40 days, to press and analysts in San Francisco.

Dell's Windows 7 tablet will run on what it called the "next-generation" Intel processor – likely meaning its upcoming Oak Trail system-on-a-chip.

Aside from that, Dell provided no technical details. In all other respects, the tablet looked identical to the company's Android-powered Streaks 5 and 7.

The Windows machine will be targeted at business users, rather than being designed and sold as a general-purpose consumer device like Apple's iPad. Steve Lalla, general manager of Dell's business client group, said the company would follow the strategy it adopted for netbooks of targeting education, medicine, manufacturing, and financial services.

Lalla said Dell's decision to go with Windows meant the PC maker could offer customers a greater range of devices and choice of form factors. The existence of a planned Windows 7 device from a PC manufacturer that has been historically firmly in the Microsoft camp "doesn't mean the Android devices won't fit in – they will, and so will the phone" he said.

Dell gave attendees at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas, Nevada, this January a flash of the 7-inch Streak – now available – and the 10-inch Android device that's yet to ship. The Streaks have suffered mixed-to-disappointing reviews.

Lalla positioned the new tablet as fitting in a trend of the "consumerization of IT" – gadgets moving into the workplace.

Dell also unveiled a completely redesigned Latitude family, new Dell Precision T1600 workstation, and Dell Precision M6600 and M4600 mobile workstations. The Latitudes support virtualization from Citirx, VMware, and Microsoft, and come, Dell claims, with 100 design improvements. The company said this is the largest client refresh in its history.

But this was all preamble for the tech netizens who really wanted to hear about tablets.

Dells show-and-tell man Lalla duly paraded the machine in front of a camera-happy press before handing it back to a colleague waiting in the wings of the event. The colleague then slipped Dell's tablet back into a laptop wallet before sliding out of the room.

No, he didn't attach the wallet to his wrist with handcuffs.

A powerless Widows tablet was later shown as part of a display with Dell's redesigned Latitudes and workstations. ®

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