Steve Ballmer during a TechDays session in the UK told those gathered that “there wouldn’t be an in-between version of Windows 7 optimized for tablets.” Those in attendance were told Microsoft was “not going to do a revamp” before the next version of Windows arrived, which many expect in 2012. Optimizations to the user interface on particular devices, such as upsizing buttons, would make them much more touch- and pen-friendly.
The current interface supports basic multi-touch but still has many menus and buttons designed for mouse input, requiring either a pen or that the user spend time modifying the OS settings to make them usable. Apple’s iPad is designed for touch from the beginning and, while more limited, eclipsed Windows tablet PCs’ estimated 2010 tablet sales within two months.
Ballmer also indirectly attacked the iPad, claiming that it wasn’t very good at the tablet form factor by, paradoxically, lacking a keyboard. The slates Microsoft has been promoting for holiday launches so far also lack physical keys.