Well, this is interesting. A new report claims that the highlight of the secretive event Microsoft suddenly announced for Monday won't just be any old Windows RT tablet. In fact, if TheWrap's sources are correct, the big showstopper will be the introduction of the very first Microsoft-produced tablet.
But will it be an iPad killer? (Again, assuming the report is true.) Maybe not; while TheWrap suggests that the rumored Microsoft tablet will run on Windows RT and an ARM processor, ZDNet's Mary Jo Foley thinks that the device could turn out to be a Windows Phone-powered Amazon Kindle Fire competitor.
Foley argues that a cheap reader-type tablet would make a lot of sense, considering that the event is being held somewhere in Los Angeles and Microsoft's recent investment in the Nook ecosystem. Microsoft has hinted several times in the past that it is looking to get into the e-reader market.
A Windows Phone-based tablet seems unlikely to us, however. Why would Microsoft siphon some of the spotlight away from Windows RT and Windows 8? Windows RT could theoretically power a Kindle Fire-type device just as well as the Windows Phone OS. But no matter what operating system it runs on, a Microsoft-branded tablet would be a huge step for the company.
One question looms large: what will other OEMs think about competing directly with Microsoft in the Windows tablet market? There are Google-branded Nexus devices out there, but Android is a free operating system. Recent rumors put the price of a Windows RT OEM license north of $80. That's a fee that Microsoft obviously won't force itself to pay, which could allow the company to undercut the price of other Windows RT tablets. Would, say, Asus and Samsung produce Windows tablets in the face of a blatant competitive disadvantage?
In any case, for the first time ever, Monday can't get here fast enough!