Microsoft has tried numerous times over the years to release some sort of tablet form factor devices. Ten years ago it was Bill Gates trying to promote a tablet computer that was a laptop with a swing around screen. This was followed up a few years ago about the overly hyped UMPCs (Ultra Mobile PCs) that had oddly shaped onscreen keyboards and ended up going basically nowhere in sales. New rumors indicate we should be ready for more of these types of products to be announced next month.

Steve BallmerAccording to The New York Times, rumors have begun circulating that Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer will be announcing new tablet form factor devices from Dell and Samsung.  It sounds like the announcement will come during Mr. Ballmer’s Wednesday night, pre-show keynote speech at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES), but it isn’t clear how close the devices will be to being ready for launch.

As opposed to devices such as Apple’s iPad and the Samsung Galaxy Tab which rely on applications, sources are claiming that Microsoft is focusing on getting companies to build HTML 5 sites to work with the new tablets.

One interesting tidbit about the Samsung device is that it is rumored to be about the same size as the iPad, but not as thin.  The peculiar aspect is that it is rumored to have a physical slide out keyboard, something that has not been seen on any of the current generation of tablets.  If this is true, we’re a little leery of the potential success of this design, but we’ll reserve final judgement until we see it in person at the show.

It is also rumored that we may see an early version of Windows 8 and what we can expect from it.  If true, this is going to be a very busy night in Las Vegas.

What say you?  Are you ready for some Microsoft tablets?