Summary:

It hasn’t been the best year for Microsoft (NSDQ: MSFT) in the tablet market, by any measure … There’s been the cancellation of the compan…

Revolutionary War
photo: Corbis

It hasn’t been the best year for Microsoft (NSDQ: MSFT) in the tablet market, by any measure … There’s been the cancellation of the company’s hotly anticipated Courier tablet, suggestions by HP (NYSE: HPQ) that it will use webOS and not Windows as the operating system in some (or all) of its forthcoming tablets, and, of course, the runaway success of the iPad. CEO Steve Ballmer, however, says his company is “hardcore” about the market.

Speaking at Microsoft’s Worldwide Partner Conference, Ballmer showed off a slide which listed 21 partners who he said would be releasing slates running Windows 7 “within the year.”

Ballmer, according to various reports, said that while the devices would be “consumer-oriented,” they would also be “manageable with today’s enterprise IT solutions.” Presumably, Microsoft will use the enterprise angle in trying to distinguish them from the iPad.

During his keynote at CES in January, Ballmer showed off three different slate PCs running Windows 7 — all of which he said would come to the market this year.

He called particular attention to a prototype from HP, which he described as a “beautiful little product.” That device’s future, however, has been in doubt ever since HP purchased Palm and said it would bring Palm’s webOS operating system to its slate PCs.

A sign that Microsoft may not be out of HP’s slate future just yet: As several other commenters pointed out, HP was included among the list of partners Ballmer said would be releasing Windows 7 slates within the year.

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