Actually, they almost certainly won’t call it the Zune Tablet. But rumors that Microsoft (NSDQ: MSFT) is considering putting together its own tablet device under its own brand later this year started gaining steam Wednesday out of Taiwan, where Microsoft would need to find a contract manufacturing partner to get started.
Digitimes, which tends to shoot about 50 percent from the field in these situations, reported that Microsoft has brought ARM-chip maker Texas Instruments on board to get cracking on a Microsoft-branded Windows 8 tablet, which would presumably arrive at the end of next year. Microsoft has traditionally chosen a partnership route with its operating system software, with Windows, Windows Mobile, and Windows Phone 7 as the obvious examples. But it has also launched products under its own name, with the Xbox as the success story and the Kin as the utter failure.
Such a move would likely annoy the very partners Microsoft is trying to court to build Windows 8 devices, much like Google’s decision to launch the Nexus One frustrated its Android partners. But putting together such a device could allow Microsoft to showcase Windows 8 if the initial reaction has been lukewarm, and could also allow it to learn much about how the software and hardware can best work together by going through the experience itself.
It’s very possible Microsoft is just testing the waters to see how the industry reacts to such a proposal, as late 2012 is an awfully long time from now. Windows 8, which was shown off last week for the first time, will be a key launch in Microsoft’s history as it tries to get some momentum behind its mobile strategy.