Microsoft hopes these slates will offer an alternative to the iPad because they move beyond play, people familiar with the tablets said. ‘The company believes there is a huge market for business people who want to enjoy a slate for reading newspapers and magazines and then work on Microsoft Word, Excel or PowerPoint while doing work,’ explained a person familiar with the company’s tablet plans.
— Microsoft’s press release disguised as a news article (seriously, is there any doubt that this is a controlled leak?) about their upcoming CES announcement of new-old tablet PCs that sound a lot like all of their other tablet initiatives to date.
The use case of regularly doing nontrivial work in Microsoft Office on a touchscreen, slate-type tablet is… optimistic. (And for all eleven people who really want to do that, surely the ground-up touch redesign of the iWork apps on iPad, and the iPad OS itself, would be more productive.)
If this is Microsoft’s answer to the iPad — and that’s likely — I don’t think anyone at Apple is going to lose sleep over it.