HP still hasn’t said boo about its slate plans since the company acquired Palm, and Microsoft chief executive Steve Ballmer didn’t mention HP during his Worldwide Partners Conference keynote this week, when talking about Windows 7 slate PCs.
So why was HP listed as one of many companies releasing Windows 7 slates this year?
The image here was screengrabbed from the live feed of Ballmer’s keynote, and tipped to Engadget over Twitter. Microsoft doesn’t have the recordings of its keynotes online yet, so I can’t validate this myself. If it’s accurate — and not just an oversight by whoever put together Ballmer’s keynote slides — it opens up a couple possibilities:
On one hand, perhaps the HP Windows slate is not dead, as rumored and generally suspected due to HP’s silence on the matter. Maybe HP just went back to the drawing board after seeing what the iPad could do, or put the Windows 7 slate on the backburner to fast-track a WebOS tablet.
On the other hand, the images above Microsoft’s list of partners includes a swiveling tablet with a keyboard. HP has already built one of those, running Windows 7, the Touchsmart tm2. I wouldn’t be shocked if HP updated that laptop in the fall, and Microsoft called it a slate for the sake of promoting Windows 7′s touch-friendliness.
In any case, with more than 20 companies building Windows 7 slates this year, debating the mortality of an HP entrant is moot. The idea was novel when HP was the only major company openly talking about an iPad competitor, but that’s hardly the case anymore. I’d be more interested to hear about a WebOS tablet at this point; at least it’ll stand out from the crowd.