[Note: Updated below with a new gallery of currently available Windows tablets and slates.]
There's much online chatter at the moment about a financial analyst's prediction that there won't be any tablet computers that run Microsoft Windows until mid-2011. According to Jefferies & Co. analyst Katherine Egbert, says businessinsider.com, it's simply an impossible task right now:
Windows 7 is currently not supported on Qualcomm's popular SnapDragon processor, and Intel's low power Oak Trail processor (part of the Atom family) for tablets is not due out until March 2011. Microsoft could introduce Windows-based tablets on the existing Atom chips, but the risks associated with the introduction of a less optimized system outweigh the risks of waiting for the right technology to become available.
While I don't disagree with any of those observations about future developments, it doesn't follow that Windows tablets are not currently possible. After all, not only are Windows tablets here right now, they've been here for years, far predating anything with Android or iOS.
That catch is, of course, that these Windows tablets have not been very good. Some are slate-style devices, others are convertible laptops with swiveling screens--but all have been underachievers, to put it mildly. Still, it's a bit unfair to dismiss their existence altogether.
To illustrate this point, I've dug up a collection of tablets we put together about five months ago, right around the iPad's launch. They're not all Windows tablets (but most are), and there are a few prototypes stuck in there, but real-world examples such as the Archos 9 PC Tablet and Viliv S5 slates, and HP's TouchSmart convertible tablet, prove that Windows tablets are alive, if not necessarily well, right now.
Update: We've replaced the original slideshow with an updated version, featuring Windows-based tablets and slates you can actually buy today (and one that might be available within the next several weeks).