Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer showed off a new touch-screen,tablet-style computer from Hewlett-Packard Co., the first ofseveral such devices expected to be unveiled this month.
The tablet - also known as a slate, a one-piece portablecomputer without a physical keyboard - was one of several new PCsBallmer demonstrated Wednesday as he delivered Microsoft Corp.'scustomary keynote presentation on the eve of the InternationalConsumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas.
During the talk, which was shown live over the Web, Ballmer saidthe HP tablet will be available later this year. He also gave aglimpse of two similar devices from Archos and Pegatron Corp.
Tablet-style computers that run Windows have been available fora decade, but HP's new machine is bound to draw extra attentionthanks to expectations that Apple Inc. will launch a similar devicelater this month.
Apple, notoriously secretive about upcoming products, has notcommented on the matter. But given the iPhone's success, whichpropelled competitors to come out with copycat touch-screen phonesand centralized "app" stores to sell add-on software, all eyesare on Apple to define what a slate or tablet-style computer shouldlook like and how it will be used.
Robbie Bach, president of Microsoft's entertainment and devicesdivision, announced that Natal, new technology that lets video gameplayers control the action by moving their whole bodies instead ofusing a joystick, will go on sale for the Xbox console in time forthis year's holiday shopping season.
Bach said in an interview that devices built for touch, gesturesand other so-called natural user interfaces will become much moremainstream in the next few years. While Microsoft co-founder BillGates has for years said the same thing, Bach says computer scienceand hardware technology are now sophisticated enough to supportGates' and other visionaries' big ideas.
Bach also called out some of the big-name Xbox 360 video gamesthat will launch in 2010, including the next installment of thepopular "Halo" franchise, and unveiled Game Room, which will letXbox users play favorite early video games from the Atari andarcade era. More than 39 million people now own Xbox 360 consoles.
Microsoft also said it forged a new search distribution dealwith HP that will make the company's Bing search site and MSN.comcontent portal the default search engine and Web home page on newHP computers sold in 42 countries.
The software maker has signed similar deals in the past,including one with HP in 2008 that made Live Search, Bing'spredecessor technology, the default on computers sold in the U.S.and Canada. People who buy such computers can still change theirpreferred search engine to something else.
Ballmer announced a new version of Mediaroom, its technologythat delivers TV over the Internet on such services as AT&T Inc.'sU-verse system. The newest version of Mediaroom will letsubscribers watch live and recorded TV and video-on-demand onWindows computers and phones and through Xbox 360 consoles, inaddition to a set-top box. It will work over regular broadband, notjust special fiber connections.Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times