Microsoft is expanding its business based product lines by tabbing the tablet computer segment.
The company announced it would release a touchscreen device next month and offer an alternative to the popular Apple iPad.
The company plans to unveil the device during the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas.
Microsoft chief executive Steve Ballmer said he plans to introduce the device during the show as well as give consumers a preview of features in the upcoming Windows 8 operating system.
The iPad is the clear frontrunner in the tablet computer market, so it is expected that Microsoft will struggle to gain ground even with a functionally competitive product.
Instead of planning the product for casual use, Microsoft has said it plans to make a tablet suited for business users who want to work with Microsoft’s lineup of Office programs like Windows, PowerPoint and Excel.
Some tech experts believe that the Windows operating system may be the best match for tablet computing, even more user friendly than Apple’s iOS, Android or PlayBook from RIM. A tablet running on Windows would simply be a streamlined version of a regular PC with the capability to handle all the standard Windows software.
A second school of thought contends that Windows and its robust software offerings could be the downfall of Microsoft’s tablet. There could be an inclination to cram too many features and programs into the device, running up costs and possibly hurting mobile functionality.
When Microsoft first introduced tablet PCs about a decade ago, they never really caught on. Now that consumers have changed their minds of the usefulness of a tablet, maybe the company will be able to make a dent in the market. Even in today’s current market a majority of netbooks run a streamlined version of the Windows OS.