A Microsoft-branded Windows 8 tablet?

June 9, 2011

Could Microsoft be planning on launching its own Windows 8 tablet, or is this pure speculation that has grown out of control thanks to the Web?

The story that Microsoft was considering building its own tablet originated with Digitimes, which suggests it’ll launch by the end of 2012. Microsoft is reportedly teaming with Texas Instruments and Taiwan-based OEMs to bring the plan to fruition. Many have doubted the validity of this report, suggesting wires have got crossed somewhere along the line.

There is certainly a possibility of this rumor being true and referring to a full product. But it seems unlikely. Microsoft has only had very limited success in branding its own hardware. The Xbox 360 has been an astounding success, but the Zune and the Kin were, it’s fair to say, complete and utter failures. So putting its own name on a tablet would be a huge risk for the company.

Were the Microsoft-branded tablet(s) to fail then it could harm the chances of Windows 8 being adopted as the operating system of choice by other tablet manufacturers. And we’ve already seen how important Windows 8 is to the future of the company and how the new OS has been built with tablets and touch interfaces fully in mind.

Hell, whether a success of failure, by launching its own branded tablet Microsoft risks upsetting and alienating OEMs to the point they could switch to using Android or the Chrome OS. It is for these reasons I agree with others who are suggesting this tablet is more likely to be a reference design showing what a Windows 8 tablet is capable of when built from the ground-up and optimized for the OS. Think of a Signature PC in tablet form.

Microsoft has declined to comment, but then I’d expect nothing more. We’ll probably know more, if there is more to know, at the Microsoft BUILD Conference in September.

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