Microsoft's super-secret media event Monday prompts speculation that Redmond plans to take on Apple and Amazon with its own, branded tablet.
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Microsoft plans to make a major announcement late Monday at a hastily convened press conference in Los Angeles.
The company has been tightlipped about the details since it signaled its plans Thursday, but a number of published reports claim the software maker will unveil a media and entertainment tablet that would be positioned to compete with Apple's iPad and Amazon's Kindle Fire.
According to some reports, the tablet could carry the Xbox brand, and might be launched in partnership with Barnes & Noble, in which Microsoft recently invested $300 million with an eye to getting a foothold in the e-books market. Barnes & Noble's current tablet, the Nook, runs a version of Google's Android operating system.
If Microsoft does debut an e-reader or media tablet, it's expected its operating system would be Windows 8 RT, which is optimized to run on ARM-based processors that deliver extended battery life.
Speculation about what Microsoft plans to announce was rife over the weekend, given the unusually cryptic invitation that the company sent to journalists Thursday.
Not only did the invitation not disclose any details about the announcement, it also did not even provide invitees with a specific location. Instead, the software maker said it would reveal the location early Monday, only to those who confirmed their attendance in advance.
"Additional information regarding specific venue, address, and parking information will be sent via e-mail to registered attendees on Monday morning," the invitation said. "This will be a major Microsoft announcement--you will not want to miss it," it tantalizingly added.
While the speculation seems to have settled around the notion that Microsoft intends to introduce some sort of tablet, others have noted that the company would not have had to call a press conference on such short notice to unveil new hardware, which presumably would have been in the works for at least the past several weeks.
That has some observers floating the notion that Microsoft plans a major business announcement, such as an acquisition. The company is reportedly in talks to acquire business social networking site Yammer.
There's also talk that Redmond may be looking to acquire its mobile phone partner, Nokia, outright. Speculation over such a move heightened last week after Nokia announced plans to lay off about 10,000 workers.
With its stock trading at only around $2.50 per share, Nokia is seen as an easily digestible target for cash-rich Microsoft. Whatever the company's plans, they should be revealed by day's end Monday.
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