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Microsoft may use Windows Phone 7 event to show off tablets

A new rumor suggests that Microsoft, concerned by the success of Apple's iPad, will use next week's Windows Phone 7 unveiling to show off new touchscreen tablets it will have available this holiday season.

The Redmond, Wash., software giant is set to hold a launch event on Oct. 11 for new devices powered by Windows Phone 7. And while it was presumed that the event would focus on phones, claims that the event in New York City may also be used to introduce new 'slate PCs' that will hit the market this year.

"Microsoft has been working closely with several un-named OEMs to produce a genuine answer to the iPad," the report said. "The software giant is concerned that iPad sales are slowly cannibalizing Windows sales and eating away at the recent boom in netbook sales."

Next week's rumored showcase of Windows tablets coincides with what Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer said at an event in the U.K. on Tuesday. Speaking to students, staff and journalists at the London School of Economics, Ballmer said consumers can expect to see new, Windows-powered slates this Christmas, according to Reuters.

The report noted that Ballmer declined to say whether the devices would be on sale before Christmas, or who will make the hardware.

Early this year, before Apple even announced the iPad, Microsoft partnered with HP to show off a touchscreen tablet dubbed a "slate PC." The Windows 7-powered product has still not launched, and HP's purchase of Palm and is webOS mobile operating system even led to rumors that the product was scrapped.

However, a prototype of HP's Windows 7 tablet was recently demoed on YouTube, and the responsiveness of the product was widely ridiculed.

Though tablets powered by Windows 7 have yet to see any high profile releases, Apple has found great success with its iPad, selling 3.27 million in its first three months of availability. Ballmer even conceded that Apple sold more iPads than he'd "like them to sell."

Since the launch of the iPad, some reports have even claimed that the iPad has been responsible for a significant reduction in netbook sales. Low-cost, low-power netbooks largely run a version of Microsoft's Windows operating system.