Microsoft’s tablet strategy might finally generate an iPad rival, specially now that Steve Ballmer claimed that we’ll see such products in stores by the year end. The MS CEO was doing a presentation at the London School of Economics and while he didn’t name companies that would work on the slate, he mentioned Christmas time as the launch time frame.

A leak on the same day of the presentation says that Ballmer will use the October 11 Windows Phone event to also announce a Windows 7 tablet. Among the candidates there’s the HP Slate 500, that could hit the market by the end of the month, plus the ExoPC and the Asus EeePad EP121. Microsoft has a lot of catching up to do, now that the iPad sold millions of units and the Galaxy Tab promises to put Android on top, sales-wise.

Will MS surprise us with a Windows Phone 7 tablet announcement?

[via electronista]