Microsoft could be about to introduce a tablet of their own at CES in Las Vegas on Wednesday in an attempt to usurp Apple's much rumoured announcement that is expected at the end of January.

The move, which would be incredibly bold by Steve Ballmer, is expected to happen when the CEO gives his keynote speech at the world's largest technology show on Wednesday evening.

"On Wednesday, Mr. Ballmer, Microsoft’s chief executive, will unveil a novel take on a slate-type computer during his evening keynote at the Consumer Electronics trade show in Las Vegas, according to people familiar with Microsoft’s plans. The slate will be made by Hewlett-Packard and possibly available by mid-year", the New York Times quotes sources as saying.

The news follows rumours of Microsoft supposedly prepping a dual screen tablet computer called Courier in September last year.  

The show, which although is yet to kick off, has already seen dozens of announcements at pre-show events and it is looking like Slate PC's or tablets will be the big story for 2010.

Lenovo on Tuesday launched a Slate come laptop device, while Dell is expected to announce its offering later in the week.

We will keep you posted.