Microsoft's CEO has teased the firm will unveil its iPad rival before Christmas, but did not confirm whether it would hit the shops and be on sale in time for the holiday rush.
Speaking to students at the London School of Economics (LSE) Steve Bullmer admitted the software giant had been slow to respond to Apple's iPad but did not reveal who will produce the slate or any hints about its spec, Reuters reported.
"You'll see new slates with Windows on them. You'll see them this Christmas. Certainly we have done work around the tablet as both a productivity device and a consumption device," he reportedly said.
If Microsoft enters the tablet market pretty sharpish it might be in with a chance of gaining a decent slice of market share, particularly as Google's opinions on Android 2.2 for tablets are well known. It now seems companies are taking note and there are rumours some manufacturers such as LG are delaying their slates until the arrival of Android Gingerbread.
Gartner has reportedly predicted 10m tablets will be sold this year, but the iPad has sole 3.3m in the first quarter alone, showing how dominant a force it has become.
Ballmer has previously shown off an HP slate running Windows but very little has reportedly been heard of the tablet since HP snapped up Palm for $1.2bn and HP announced a new medley of products including tablets running on Palm software as well as Windows offerings.
Microsoft has so far had a hard time cracking the smartphone market but hopes it can reverse its fortunes with the impending launch of its Windows Phone 7.
The software giant's first Windows phone cornered just short of 9 percent of the smartphone market last year and is expected to slide to just below 4 percent by 2014, according to Gartner.
While Microsoft reportedly binned a phone for teenagers after just 3 months this summer, Ballmer reportedly said: "The job right now is we've got to get back seriously into the game of phones."
He is thought to have missed out on his maximum bonus last fiscal year because of Microsoft's flops in the phone space and lack of tablet, despite record sales for the company as a whole.
"We've got to have a comeback against the competition and I think with our new Windows phones we really have a beautiful product," he told Reuters.