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After Dell’s Streak tablet quickly became roadkill, it seemed that the computer maker had given up on slates altogether. Instead, Dell has been quietly working on a major tablet comeback.

The company has plans to release a consumer tablet later this year, and is paying special attention to creating a valuable ecosystem for consumers on the device, Dell chief commercial officer Steve Felice told Reuters today at CES.

“We have been taking our time. The general failure of everyone that’s tried to introduce a tablet outside of Apple” is a sign that Dell was wise to wait, Felice said. “You will see us enter this market in a bigger way toward the end of the year. So we are not really deemphasizing it, we are really being very careful how we enter it.”

Given the recent failures of HP’s Touchpad and RIM’s BlackBerry PlayBook, it makes sense for Dell to concentrate on making its tablet stand out. But it can’t wait too long, as tablets are steadily eating up PC sales, and right now Dell has nothing to satisfy slate-hungry consumers.

Felice didn’t say if the future tablet would run Android or Windows 8, but it seems like he’s very interested in what Microsoft is trying to do with the new operating system. “There hasn’t been a lot of advancement and it’s given Microsoft a good window to come into the market with Windows 8. I like the touch Windows 8 feature,” he said.

Indeed, Windows 8 seems a fitting choice for Dell, a company that has been far more comfortable with Windows than any other platform. Dell is also teaming up with Chinese search engine Baidu for tablets and smartphones in that country, but those devices don’t have much a chance to make it to the U.S.

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