What’s in Store for a Microsoft Tablet?

(Ping! Zine Web Tech Magazine) – We’re still hours away from an official Microsoft announcement, but we’re emphatically wondering exactly what the popular Windows OS maker has up its sleeve. While most pre-event reports are vague, a number of specific features could be at play.

Windows Showcasing

So exactly what could be in store for the device? Look no further than Microsoft’s upcoming release of the metro-styled Windows 8, an operating system specifically suited for the tablet market. The mobile smartphone and tablet industry has been an area the company has increasingly lagged behind in (compared to competitors such as Google’s Android and Apple’s iOS). While licensing Windows 8 to other tablet manufacturers is a sure bet, an actual Microsoft-produced device could be a game changer, competing against popular tablets including the Amazing Kindle Fire and the Apple iPad. Update: The device itself is expected operate on Windows RT, an OS featuring Windows 8’s metro style).

A Focus on Xbox Live?

Let’s not forget something else that could be at play here: the company’s widely popular Xbox Live platform. Just earlier this month, the company announced its SmartGlass technology, a cross device-syncing solution allowing users to control the console via mobile phones and tablets. SmartGlass was interesting because it introduced a new variety of touchscreen game controls to the Xbox 360, refreshing new interest in a console that initially made its market debut in 2006. Meanwhile, a new tablet with a focus on Xbox Live could provide an even higher interest in the company’s Xbox 360 services.

It might have nothing to do with Barnes & Noble

An initial report from Tech Crunch indicated that the tablet would unveiled through a partnership with Nook creator Barnes and Noble following an alliance between the companies in April. However, a news story made available through BusinessInsider.com contradicted that report with a source from the book retailer saying it didn’t actually have any involvement.

Microsoft Isn’t Known for Hardware

Microsoft has never really been in the hardware business, instead taking a different approach than competitor Apple by licensing its software to a variety of computer companies. It has, however long manufactured small tech appliances for computer systems. Such products include mice, keyboards and similar items.

The company was toying with an idea for a two-screen tablet known as “Courier” sometime in 2010, a product that was ultimately canceled according to CNET. So could Microsoft be set to dominate the tablet market with a new hardware product powered by the tablet-centric Windows 8? What do you think? Microsoft will makes its announcement in Los Angeles, California at 3:30 pacific time. Tech site CNET will have in-depth reporting.