After an invitation from Microsoft went out Thursday inviting media to a mysterious “major” event in Los Angeles next week, speculation abounded over what might be announced at the event.
Now, some are saying that the event could be a reveal of tablets made directly by Microsoft, which has traditionally relied on its hardware partners to produce PCs and tablets running on its software.
Ina Fried at AllThingsD, citing unnamed sources, reports that Microsoft decided it needed to design its own hardware as well as the software in order to better battle Apple’s market-dominating iPad.
The Wrap had earlier reported the same thing, saying Microsoft will be unveiling its own branded tablet Monday.
Microsoft has not said what the event will be about, nor even disclosed the exact venue of the event.
If Microsoft starts making its own branded tablets, that could be awkward for its relationships with its hardware partners, many of whom have shown off a variety of upcoming Windows 8 tablets. Manufacturers from Samsung to Lenovo to Asus to Acer have shown off such tablets, including most recently at the Computex trade fair. While most of the tablets shown ran on Intel processors, some shown ran on ARM-based processors — the types of tablets designed to go head-to-head with the iPad.
[Update 8:30 a.m.: I’m liking some of the commenters’ suggestions about the XPad name. Here’s my guess: Maybe a Microsoft-branded tablet (XPad? XTablet?) with a specific design and specs that will be manufactured by OEMs or ODMs; along with the announcement of major entertainment providers who have partnered to provide content specific to this tablet. Hence, the Los Angeles location, and reports of the possible tablet by The Wrap, a site that covers the business of entertainment and media, founded by veteran Hollywood chronicler Sharon Waxman.
Monday, we’ll see how all these speculations pan out. I’ll be there, covering the event.]
[Update 2:16 p.m.: The New York Times is reporting that a Microsoft-branded tablet is indeed what is expected be unveiled Monday in L.A. Citing “people with knowledge of Microsoft’s plans who declined to be named discussing confidential matters,” reporter Nick Wingfield writes that it would be “the first time in the company’s 37-year history that it will offer a computer of its own creation.”]