MS set to make ‘major’ announcement
The rumours are flying thick and fast, after a cryptic event invitation was sent to the press for a Microsoft event on Monday (18 June) saying only: “This will be a major announcement – you will not want to miss it.”
According to The Wrap, “an individual with knowledge of the company” has said the event will see the unveiling of a Microsoft-manufactured tablet, which will mark the company’s entry into a new hardware category and set it up in direct competition with Apple.
If a Microsoft tablet running Windows 8 is indeed revealed on Monday, it could ruffle the feathers of other manufacturers such as HP, Lenovo, Toshiba and Nokia – all of which are openly working on their own tablets to run the new operating system due to debut before year-end. One of Microsoft’s biggest strengths is its partner network, so a hardware play could prove risky.
According to reports, the new tablet will run Windows RT, which is the version of Windows 8 that uses an ARM microprocessor. Microsoft has unsuccessfully tried its hand at tablets before. Back in 2000, the company unveiled a bulky tablet prototype, saying it believed tablets would come to the market by 2002. Then, in 2001, Compaq came out with a Tablet PC prototype running a Windows OS. At the time, Bill Gates said he believed tablets would be the most popular form of PCs sold in the US within five years.
In 2003, Microsoft released a tablet version of Windows XP for OEMs and manufacturers. A second edition was released in 2004, but Microsoft stopped supporting both editions in 2009. While manufacturers such as Lenovo and HP developed tablet devices running the software, they failed to capture the attention of the market.
At CES in 2010, Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer showed off the HP “Slate PC” running Windows 7. Around the same time, Microsoft was said to be working on a new type of tablet that featured two screens and opened like a book, called “Courier”. The project was cancelled almost at the same time as Apple unveiled the iPad.
An in-house tablet may have the potential to pose a challenge to Apple, as the tight integration of hardware and software has always set the iPad apart from competitors. According to an AllThingsDigital report, sources say Microsoft has concluded that in order to seriously attack the market, it needs control over its own hardware and software to be able to better compete with Apple’s strengths.
Microsoft’s most successful product of recent years has been the Xbox, which the company manufactures itself.
Since details are few and far between, other speculation is that Monday’s event could be an entertainment-related announcement (considering the event is in Los Angeles). However, an Xbox or Kinect announcement is considered unlikely, since new gaming hardware would logically have been revealed at the E3 conference two weeks ago. A Microsoft TV is also considered unlikely since the Xbox 360 is already so well integrated and pervasive.