Hewlett-Packard announced today that it was getting back into the tablet business with the launch of the Slate 2, a Windows 7-based device geared specifically towards enterprise users, with its expanded touch capabilities enhanced multitasking performance and embedded security. Pricing for the Slate 2 starts at $699, with the tablet expected to be available worldwide later this month.

The Slate 2 offers six hours of battery life and features an 8.9-inch screen and includes a Swype touchscreen keyboard. The tablet also includes a front-facing VGA webcam, 3-megapixel camera on the back, SRS Premium Sound provides optimized audio settings, and SD card slot allows for expanded storage and sharing capabilities. The HP Slate Dock provides device connection via two USB 2.0 ports and an HDMI port.

Though there won't be any around-the-block lines of personal consumers clamoring for the Slate 2, its release is interesting for two reasons. The first is HP's focus upon data protection and security management at the organizational as well as individual level, which is one area where the iPad - the otherwise most popular tablet on the market - has been seen to fall short. Whether these features are enough to give the Slate 2 a noticeable competitive edge remains to be seen, however.

The second interesting point is the question of what HP's commitment to Windows 7 - and therefore the mobile-enterprise-focused Windows 8 - will mean for the limited number of other devices also using Windows operating systems. We will be interested to see how other tablet makers will optimize their Windows 8 devices to compete with the Slate 2 and whether they, too, will seek to carve out a niche amongst businesses looking to ramp up security.