The tablet PC market may not be an easy one for Google - and its new operating system - to enter. Steve Ballmer indicated this morning that Microsoft is "hardcore" about the field, and will be launching more than a few models before the end of this year.
As reported by Patrick Goss, Ballmer said during his keynote at the Worldwide Partner Conference, "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. It's a terribly important area for us."
Ballmer also stated, "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."
That's bad news for Google, since the only tablet device it really had to worry about up until this point was the iPad. Now it looks like Chrome OS could have a much more difficult time gaining traction, especially since the Microsoft-based products could match or undercut Google's versions in terms of price.
One interesting thing is that Steve Ballmer didn't specifically reference tablet PCs with ties to Apple or Google during his keynote. So Microsoft doesn't appear to be declaring all-out war in this segment just yet.
That time may come when we're a little closer to specific products' launches, though.