Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer told financial analysts that tablet computers were a "job one urgency" for the company.
Despite the company recently becoming a licensee of CPU-designer outfit ARM, Ballmer said that the company is focusing on tablet computers based on Intel CPUs running the Windows 7 operating system.
The charismatic Microsoft boss also had grudging praise for Apple's iPad success: "Apple's done an interesting job of putting together a synthesis, putting a product out of which they've certainly sold more than I'd like them to sell," Ballmer admitted.
Ballmer equated the tablet situation to the early netbook generations which launched based on Linux operating systems but which soon moved towards a Microsoft dominated product category. Ballmer also pointed to Intel's upcoming Sandy Bridge range of low-power, multi core processors due next year.
During the day-long meeting with analysts, Microsoft also demonstrated how a Windows 7-powered slate would interact with a range of other Microsoft products such as accessing data from Microsoft's push into cloud computing, or Windows desktop PCs or even pushing video out to play on an Xbox to view on a TV, using the slate as a remote control.
Drilled about the time frame products would be arriving, Ballmer said that they would be available "as soon as they're ready they'll be shipping", saying that the company had been working with the likes of Dell, HP, Lenovo, Asus, Samsung, Toshiba, and Sony to "not just to deliver something but to deliver products that people really want to go buy."
Some analysts remained skeptical of Microsoft's strategy in the tablet segment, citing concerns about the relative complexity of Windows 7 versus the Apple iPad. IDC software program director Al Hilwa reportedly said: "Apple has a less-is-more strategy to broaden its consumer approach with the iPad. Microsoft is committed to running Windows 7 on tablets, which is a concern."