Microsoft is reportedly mulling over the possibility of launching its very own Windows 8 tablet.
If Redmond decides to move forward with its tentative plans, the company may work with Texas Instruments (TI) and various Taiwan-based OEMs/ODMs to bring such a device to market.
According to DigiTimes, Microsoft hopes a native Windows 8 tablet will emulate the success of its wildly popular Xbox 360 console.
As you may recall, the Xbox 360 - and accompanying Kinect platform - is currently the only indigenously branded (hardware) product line fortunate enough to have achieved genuine success for Redmond in recent years.
Microsoft’s forays into the mobile and portable markets have thus far been considerably less than stellar, with the rather embarrassing Kin debacle and a (Zune) media player axed by Redmond’s High Command.
My take on all this?
I’m honestly not sure an indigenous Microsoft tablet would offer Redmond any real advantages. Sure, it could help the company build more of a comprehensive and controlled ecosystem, but Microsoft isn’t Apple and doesn’t want to be the keeper of a walled garden - at least on a hardware level.
As such, Microsoft is likely to work with various OEMs, some of whom are quite disappointed with Google and its tablet-optimized Honeycomb OS.
Honestly, there seems to be a lot of excitement around Microsoft’s decision to support ARM chips, which could result in a lineup of slick tablets actually capable of taking on Apple’s iPad.
Of course, no one denies that Cupertino has a massive head-start, as the iPad 2 is truly a work of art with magnificent specs and capabilities. But it is still very much a “one-size fits all” approach.
In contrast, Microsoft has historically excelled with its strategy to support multiple form factors, as with Windows. Yes, only time will tell for certain, but MS could eventually replicate at least some of its PC success in the mobile space.
However, in the end, Microsoft’s tablet future is contingent upon a wide range of Windows 8 devices with corresponding price points and a UI that is at least as intuitive, if not better, than Apple’s iOS.