Software giant Microsoft will not release a tablet OS to compete with Google or Apple until 2012, people familiar with the situation told Bloomberg.
The delay comes as Microsoft continues working to update its Windows 7 operating system for the touch screen, size and battery life of a typical tablet computer.
This could be a problem for Microsoft, as the longer it takes to enter the market, the more time it gives Apple and Google to strengthen their foothold.
"If 2011 is the year of the tablet wars, Microsoft will be awfully late suiting up for that battle," Michael Gartenberg, analyst for research firm Gartner, told Bloomberg.
"It's not a good position to be in".
By 2012 it is likely that Apple will have released a third generation of its iPad, and second or third versions of Google's Android system will be available.
"Battle lines are being drawn, land is being grabbed, users are being evangelised and spending money," said Gartenberg.
This news comes as Steve Jobs revealed Apple's iPad 2 earlier this week in San Francisco.
The new iPad has been built with a 1GHz dual-core processor, making it faster than the original iPad, ,and it is thinner at 8.8mm compared with the previous 13.4mm.
The iPad 2 will be launched in the US on 11 March, and will be made available in 26 other countries on 25 March.