HP, Microsoft to come out with tablet computer this year

Hewlett-Packard will team up with Microsoft to come out with a tablet computer for the enterprise business market this year, a senior HP executive said on Thursday.

HP executive vice president Todd Bradley said the US computer giant was developing tablet, or slate, computers using the WebOS operating system of newly acquired Palm but had not abandoned the US software giant.

“I think you’ll see us with a family of slate products, clearly Microsoft for the enterprise, and a WebOS product,” he said at the Fortune Brainstorm Tech conference here.

“Our focus is working with still our largest software partner, Microsoft, to create a tablet, a slate, for the enterprise business,” Bradley said, adding that the device was expected to hit the market this fall.

“Slates are going to be an enormous category,” he said of touchscreen tablet computers like Apple’s popular iPad. “This is just in its infancy.”

Bradley added that HP, the world’s top computer maker, is “still Microsoft’s largest customer.”

“We have a deep partnership with them, from distribution to development that we’re very, very deeply committed to,” he said.

Bradley’s remarks came amid speculation that HP had dropped plans to produce a tablet computer with Microsoft in favor of devices using the operating system from Palm, the US smartphone maker acquired by HP earlier this year.

Microsoft chief executive Steve Ballmer said earlier this month that the technology titan is teaming up with nearly two dozen hardware makers to release Windows-based tablet computers.

The list of potential Windows 7-based tablet partners given by Ballmer included HP, Lenovo, Asus, Dell, Samsung, Toshiba, and Sony.

Apple has sold more than three million iPads since it went on sale in April and Microsoft and other technology giants have been seeking to develop products to rival the touchscreen device from the California gadget maker.

Speaking at the same Fortune event, Jon Rubinstein, Palm’s former chief executive who is now a senior HP vice president, said an HP tablet computer would be able to run Flash, the popular video software from Adobe which Apple has barred from the iPad.