By Jonathan Charles | Jun 16, 2012 11:40 AM EDT
Microsoft generated plenty of discussion following the announcement of a keynote on Monday, June 18, with rumors from numerous tech sites suggesting the company is about to announce an in-house tablet. Microsoft is preparing for the launch of Windows 8, so what could the company possibly announce during the presentation?
Rumors are buzzing loud that Microsoft will announce a tablet. AllThingsD's sources said that Microsoft is developing the hardware of a tablet to compete with Apple, rather than just relying on third-party OEMs to produce hardware (though that will most likely continue when Windows 8 launches). In March, Apple released the third generation iPad. Dubbed new iPad, the tablet running on iOS, sold three million units during its first weekend on sale.
Competing against Apple might not be in Microsoft's plans, however, and the company may instead focus on rivalling Amazon's Kindle Fire. Launched in November 2011, the Kindle Fire is pitched as a content-centric device rather than a full-featured tablet. Retailing for $199.99 in the U.S. the device is significantly cheaper than the $499.99 new iPad, and Microsoft may see a low-cost alternative as a way to rival Apple rather than trying to capture the high-end market.
Microsoft also made a deal with Barnes & Noble's Nook business, which contained references to a "Microsoft Reader." Microsoft may be looking to use the partnership to create a competitor to the Kindle Fire, and Apple's iBooks software.
The only question is how Microsoft would position the device against third-party Windows 8 tablets?
Nokia 'Lumia' Tablet
There's also a chance Microsoft will leverage its partnership with Nokia to develop a Lumia branded tablet, following the Nokia Lumia Windows Phone devices. The ailing Finnish company said to Pocket-lint at CES during January 2012 it was interested in tablets and the Metro UI, despite having no plans for a product. Apple's iPad is known for its thin, sleek form factor - something the Lumia 900 emulated.
Microsoft has long been rumored to be developing a replacement for the now-dead Zune, and will apparently integrate a service into the Xbox. Microsoft showed off plenty of multimedia features during its E3 2012 conference, and continues to push the Xbox 360 as an all-in-one media device.
Windows 8 Release Date
Windows 8, Microsoft's next major version of its long-running desktop OS, is launching this year. The company has remained quiet on a release date, but sources speaking to Bloomberg said Microsoft will launch the operating system in October and finish development during the summer. Six months into the year, the conference could be the ideal point for a release date post-WWDC.
Windows Phone 8
Similarly, Windows Phone 8 is expected this year and will represent the next generation of Windows Phone devices. Microsoft has cemented third place in the smartphone market, behind Google and Apple, but is struggling to gain mind share despite the consistent praise of the operating system's speed and simplicity.
Microsoft's invite-only conference takes place in Los Angeles, June 18, with doors opening at 3PM.
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