It was made public to the world by Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer himself but an unconfirmed report now says that HP is ditching Windows 7 from its high-profile but unreleased Slate tablet computer.

According to an unnamed inside source quoted by the TechCrunch website, HP has not been happy with the performance of Windows 7 running on the Slate.

Although HP has yet to confirm anything, the timing of the rumour coincides with HP's announcement that it has bought Palm, leaving some to speculate that HP is instead working on a tablet based on WebOS, the operating system developed for Palm's Pre and Pixi smartphones.

"We see additional opportunities beyond smartphones," said Todd Bradley, vice president of HP's personal systems group and formerly a CEO of Palm, during a conference call to announce the acquisition last week.

The slate market could be a key growth area for HP, said Jack Gold, analyst with J. Gold Associates. "Since tablets are primarily front ends to the internet, it allows HP to deploy many cloud-based services from which it can generate revenues, including those in an app store, streamed services, etc," he said.

HP also sells Windows Mobile phones but has a very small presence in that market overall. "HP's Windows Mobile phone business is dying a rapid death," Gold said.