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Microsoft and HP have teamed up to introduce a slate computer ahead of Apple's much rumoured device launch.The firms unveiled the Windows 7 powered touchscreen machine, also known as a tablet, at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas.The aim of the device is to bridge the gap between laptops and smartphones. Apple are also reported to be gearing up to launch a slate device in late January to go on sale in March, according to the Wall Street Journal. "It's a beautiful little product," said Microsoft boss Steve Ballmer. During his keynote address at CES, Mr Ballmer demonstrated the machine in front of an audience of over 3,500 press, bloggers, analysts and industry peers. He also showed off two other tablet computers - one made by Archos and the other by Pegatron Corp.Muted reactionReaction to the as yet unnamed device was somewhat subdued."What we saw confirmed my worst suspicions that this is your standard Microsoft software in a slate form," Paul Miller, senior associate editor of technology website Engadget, told BBC News. "It's an interesting product in itself but Microsoft could have gone further. It's not anything new in terms of software and that is what you really need to make a device like this make people want to buy it."However, technology blogger Devin Connors of Tom's Hardware did not agree. "It looked really good given the short amount of time we saw it for and it has Windows 7. Everyone loves Windows 7 and putting it in a device the size of an e-reader is probably going to be a winning combination."