Jun 15, 2012 01:16 PM EDT
In an effort to gain some ground against Apple's popular iPad, Microsoft is reportedly poised to make its own entry in the booming tablet market, AllThingsD reported. The software giant has indicated for months that it plans to enter the tablet market through its traditional hardware partners, but now it seems to aim a more direct approach.
While Microsoft has not discussed such plans, the company has scheduled an event Monday, June 18, in Los Angeles, promising to make a "major announcement." On Thursday, June 14, AllThingsD reported that Microsoft's event would focus on the company's tablet strategy.
"Sources say that 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," AllThingsD reported. "Microsoft's tablets may include machines running ARM-based processors as well as models running on traditional PC processors, sources said."
Also on Thursday, The Wrap reported that Microsoft will make its own devices, bolstering AllThigsD's claims. If it makes its own tablets, Microsoft could have a better chance at matching Apple's tight integration, but it may also create some conflict. Microsoft earns most of its money from Windows and Office, and relies on an ecosystem of PC makers such as Dell, Acer, HP, and Lenovo to make those Windows-based devices.
At Microsoft's request, many of those PC makers have been developing tablets running Windows and Windows RT, the Windows 8 version designed to run on the ARM processors found in today's phone and tablets. Exactly how Microsoft plans to differentiate its work from what PC makers are already doing is still unclear at this point. It is also unclear how those partners would react if Microsoft enters the market with its very own tablet.
AllThingsD suggests PC makers could shift their energy towards Google's Android, but Google is in the hardware business as well, both directly, through its recent acquisition of Motorola, and indirectly through its Nexus efforts, in which it largely designs and controls devices made by other manufacturers. Moreover, Google is also rumored to be working on its own tablet.
Microsoft's Approach So Far
Microsoft has steered away from making its own computers so far, though it has experimented with various approaches in other devices. The company developed the Zune, for instance, after failing to catch up to Apple's iPod with various hardware partners building products around Microsoft software. The Zune managed to seize a significant share, but it never posed a serious challenge to the iPod, and the hardware effort eventually faded.
When it comes to phones, the software giant initially went with a PC approach, designing the OS but giving hardware makers the freedom to create their own devices. With Windows Phone 7, however, the company has taken a more hands-on approach, making fewer partners and working more closely with them, while demanding tight control over the type of devices they produce. Microsoft was not immediately available for comment, but its "major" announcement is imminent. Could it be a Microsoft tablet?
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