Microsoft believes that Windows 7 slates are one of the most important things it is focusing on, with a slew of new products from major manufacturers on the way.

Speaking at the Worldwide Partner Conference, Steve Ballmer insisted that slates were very much a focal point, along with Windows Phone 7.

"This year, one of the most important things that we will do in the smart device category is really push forward with Windows 7 based slates and with Windows Phone 7 phones," said Ballmer.

"It's a terribly important area for us."

Energy, vigour and push

Ballmer continues: "It's certainly an area where we fell all of the energy and vigour and push that we have ever felt to innovate, to drive hard and to compete.

"We know that you as partners are hearing from our joint customers that they have a lot they want to do, not just at home, but at work – 'thin' scenarios in which they believe in the slate as a device, scenarios where they want to embrace the smartphone and we have to really push this from a Microsoft perspective.

"You need to see between us and our hardware partner a range of slates and a range of phones that you can take to your customer when they come with this, that or the other random device that's not currently supported by corporate IT, we want to give you a great device, a consumer oriented device but a device that fits and is manageable with today's enterprise solutions."

Slated to appear

The next few months will bring many Windows 7-toting tablet computers, although they will be very different in what they offer.

"In the course of the next several months you will see a range of Windows 7 based slates which I think you'll find quite impressive – they will come from the people you would expect; from Asus, from Dell, from Samsung, from Toshiba, from Sony.

"They'll come with keyboards, they'll come without keyboards, they will be dockable there will be many price points, many form factors, many sizes but they will run Windows 7, they will run Windows 7 applications, they will run Office they will accept ink as well as touch based input.

"And they will be very good for the kinds of scenarios for knowledge workers and the business people who want to have something that works super-well at work but also supports their personal interests as they travel.

"We are hardcore about this."