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January 8, 2010

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Microsoft unveils first tablet

MICROSOFT CEO Steve Ballmer showed off a new touch-screen, tablet-style computer from Hewlett-Packard Co, the first of several such devices expected to be unveiled this month.

The tablet - also known as a slate, a one-piece portable computer without a physical keyboard - was one of several new PCs Ballmer demonstrated as he delivered Microsoft Corp's customary keynote presentation on the eve of the International Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas on Wednesday. The show opens to public from yesterday to Sunday.

During the talk, which was shown live over the Web, Ballmer said the HP tablet would be available later this year.

He also gave a glimpse of two similar devices from Archos and Pegatron Corp.

Tablet-style computers that run Windows have been available for a decade, but HP's new machine is bound to draw extra attention thanks to expectations that Apple Inc will launch a similar device later this month. Apple has not commented on the matter. But given the iPhone's success, which propelled competitors to come out with copycat touch-screen phones and centralized "app" stores to sell add-on software, all eyes are on Apple to define what a slate or tablet-style computer should look like and how it will be used.

Meanwhile, Robbie Bach, president of Microsoft's entertainment and devices division, announced that Natal, new technology that lets video game players control the action by moving their bodies instead of using a joystick, will go on sale for the Xbox console in time for this year's holiday shopping season.

Bach also called out some of the big-name Xbox 360 video games that will launch in 2010, including the next installment of the popular "Halo" franchise, and unveiled Game Room, which will let Xbox users play favorite early video games from the Atari and arcade era. More than 39 million people now own Xbox 360 consoles.



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