Wouldn’t it be hilarious if after months of building up to a real product, the anticipated Google tablet was completely blown away by Microsoft doing the same thing even better? According to current speculation, that may be exactly where things are headed. A sudden and less than detailed invitation went out a couple days ago to a Microsoft presentation tomorrow that many are now expecting to be the occasion for unveiling a Windows 8 tablet designed by Microsoft themselves.
Originally there was a bit of confusion about these invitations and the speculation immediately turned to Windows Phone 8. It would make sense for them to be looking to get the new smartphone OS ready for launch sometime in the near future, but overall it doesn’t seem right to be announcing it yet. That was more or less just the best knee-jerk reaction.
Since then we have heard supposed insider information that points to Microsoft making a move on the iPad. By manufacturing their own hardware as well as building the operating system, the company would be able to go after Apple on their own terms. This wouldn’t exactly be the safest move in the world given the iPad’s dominance in the tablet market already, but it would openly demonstrate a huge amount of faith in their newest product.
Assuming this proves to be the case, expect the new tablet to be running on Windows RT rather than Windows 8. There are a few reasons for that, but mostly it would be a good way for the ARM side of things to kick off. Nobody really doubts that the Intel based side of things will be able to attract both customers and developers. There is some question of whether it will have anything near the popularity of Windows 7, but that’s not the same as saying that nobody will own or develop for it. The same can’t be said of Windows RT given that the different architecture it supports means that developers will have to go out of their way to provide applications.
Since nothing will be able to be ported directly out of existing Windows applications, Microsoft is going to need a strong interest built up right at the outset if they are hoping to keep their work on ARM devices from going to waste. By designing their own hardware, they will be able to make sure that everything performs exactly as desired and that customers don’t have to worry about getting rushed products that might reflect negatively on the operating system in ways that have nothing to do with its performance.
We will know more tomorrow, of course, and I will provide an update on the situation as soon as it becomes available. Stay tuned, this could be the biggest thing to come to the Windows 8 vs iPad competition all year if things go as expected.