Hewlett Packard throws Microsoft a tablet bone

Hewlett Packard (HP) is denying that it definitively abandoned plans to launch a Windows 7 slate. 

The company, which recently acquired Palm for $1.2 billion, insisted it was still “gauging” the market “promise” of a Windows 7 tablet computer.

“In reference to a Windows 7-based slate, we are in customer evaluations now and will make a determination soon on the next step,” HP spokeswoman Marlene Somsak told AFP.

”Customer evaluations could involve providing a prototype HP slate to businesses to get feedback and learn how they might use it.”

Unsurprisingly, it seems as if Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer may have spoken a little too soon when he claimed that nearly two dozen hardware makers – including HP, Lenovo, Asus, Dell, Samsung, Toshiba, and Sony – had eagerly lined up to manufacture Windows-based tablets.

“This year one of the most important things that we will do in the smart device category is really push forward with Windows 7-based slates and Windows 7 phones,” the Balmy Ballmer proclaimed recently.

It should be noted that HP views Palm’s webOS as a platform which will allow the company to expand its product line to include smartphones as well as tablet computers.