Microsoft could unveil its answer to Apple's iPad in time for Christmas, the software giant's chief executive, Steve Ballmer, told students at the London School of Economics. Microsoft is under tremendous pressure to do something to compete with the extraordinary success of the iPad, which recently became the fastest-selling electronic device of all time and is threatening to eat into sales of PCs that run Microsoft software. Will Microsoft's slate computer be able to take on Apple? (Watch a Fox Business discussion about Microsoft's future)

No, Microsoft's slate will be no match for the iPad: Microsoft may well release a tablet PC running Windows by Christmas, says Ina Fried at CNET, but something that "truly can rival Apple's iPad" is still a way off. "What makes the iPad unique isn't its shape." It is the extraordinary battery life and "instant-on experience." To compete with that, Microsoft needs to revamp both its hardware and software — and that won't be done in time for the holidays. 
"Windows tablets for holidays won't rival iPad"

Old news, and still not good enough: This is "at least the third time" Ballmer has made this announcement, says Mary-Jo Foley at ZDNet. And he's already admitted that Microsoft's "real iPad competitors" won't be out until "later in 2011." If the company really is gearing up iPad rivals for a Christmas launch, "I'm doubtful they'll be much to write home about." I know I wouldn't want one under my tree.
"This year's Windows 7 slates: Not under my Christmas tree"

Microsoft has to do something: Ballmer's company has "lacked direction" recently, says Kate James at Gather. Its share of the smartphone market is declining rapidly, and its stock has recently been downgraded in part due to competition from the "insanely popular iPad." If they don't get a foothold in the tablet market soon, they could end up as "non-players in this area," too — which would be disastrous for the company.
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