News reports have claimed that Microsoft is going to make its own tablet computer running its coming Windows 8 operating system.
The Website AllThingsD, a product of The Wall Street Journal, reports that Microsoft is going to mirror Apple and manufacture the hardware and software together in a coming tablet computer. Microsoft invited reporters to a media event Monday afternoon in Los Angeles but didn’t say what the event was about.
“We do not comment on rumors or speculation,” said Microsoft, in a prepared statement, in response to eWEEK’s request for comment.
AllThingsD, which also referred to an earlier report on TheWrap.com Website, about the possible introduction of a Microsoft tablet, stated, “Microsoft concluded that it needs its own tablet, with the company designing both the hardware and software in an effort to better compete against Apple’s strengths.”
But this would be a significant departure from Microsoft’s way of doing things, AllThingsD noted. It has built its business on creating computer operating systems and enterprise business applications, such as Windows and Office, while leaving the hardware marketing to an “ecosystem” of hardware makers such as Dell, HP and Samsung. On the mobile side, it created Windows Phone 7 but the handsets came from HTC, Samsung and Motorola. The exception is Xbox, which runs on Microsoft-developed hardware.
The lack of information about the event has invited much speculation among Microsoft watchers. Rob Enderle, principal analyst with the research firm Enderle Group, said the event’s location in Los Angeles suggests Microsoft’s news would be media-related.
“Given that it’s L.A., it’s probably going to have something to do with Hollywood and media. That’s the kind of thing [Microsoft] would do there,” Enderle said. “I don’t recall them ever doing something in L.A. that didn’t have something to do with media.”
If the reports are true that Microsoft is emulating Apple by building an integrated hardware and software device, then Microsoft is also emulating Apple’s gift for generating hype. Seldom do Microsoft customers wait in long lines outside stores overnight for the next release of Office. But all eyes in the tech media at least are focused on Los Angeles for what Microsoft will announce Monday, precisely because it’s been so coy about what it will announce.
Other speculation suggested that the Monday L.A. event would be where Microsoft would officially announce its acquisition of the business social media platform maker Yammer, but the news came out June 15 that Microsoft would pay $1.2 billion for the San Francisco-based Yammer.
Microsoft has been struggling to compete in the emerging tablet market. The winners so far have been Apple’s iPad and Google, whose Android mobile operating system has gone into tablets from HTC, Samsung and Asus, among others. However, the iPad has far outsold any other single Android tablet model.
If Microsoft is actually prepared to announce its own tablet brand, it remains to be seen which of Microsoft’s operating systems will run on the device. The company is offering two distinct successors to its Windows 7 OS: Windows 8 for x86 processor-based machines and Windows RT for ARM processor-based machines. Analysts have said tablets could run either version.
Editor’s Note: This article was updated to correct the attribution of a quote from AllThingsD about why Microsoft might introduce a Windows 8 tablet under its own brand name.