Microsoft said to launch Windows 8-branded tablet


In the wake of Microsoft‘s first “Windows 8” preview, reports have surfaced that the PC software giant plans to launch its own Microsoft-branded tablet to compete with Apple‘s iPad line, and the growing variety of Android-based tablets. According to DigiTimes, the device will be a collaborative effort between Microsoft, Texas Instruments and “Taiwan-based OEMs/ODMs.” The tablet will allegedly land in consumers’ hands by the end of 2012.

If the rumor proves accurate, this would signal a major shift in Microsoft’s business plans. The Redmond, Washington-based technology giant has traditionally pushed its Windows operating system onto PCs and smarphones produced by other companies. By making a self-branded tablet, Microsoft would be making moves to take Apple — the current king of the tablet world — head on.

In order to successfully pull off such a coup, Microsoft will reportedly copy the branding strategies employed for product likes like the Xbox 360, Kin smartphone and the now-dead Zune MP3 player (which, not surprisingly, was beheaded by Apple’s long-ubiquitous iPod music players). The Kin, too, proved to be a relative failure due to poor performance.

But what about the PC makers that currently use Windows as a selling point for their own devices — won’t they be upset by Microsoft effectively taking them on, as well? Nope. No, they won’t, says DigiTimes‘ source, at least not for the “short term.” Go figure.

Regardless of whether Microsoft goes this route or not, Windows 8 should offer a solid alternative to Apple’s iOS. The software is still very much in development, and may not release until late next year, but the early details paint an impressive picture of a Microsoft operating system designed around touch-based technology.

For a complete look at some of the early new features of Windows 8, check out our very own Jeffrey Van Camp’s in-depth rundown of the next-generation Microsoft OS here.