Microsoft has a major announcement planned for Monday, and for once, nobody knows exactly what it’s about. The general consensus, however, seems to be that Microsoft might unveil its own tablet to compete directly against the iPad and Kindle Fire. Both TheWrap and AllThingsD claim to have received credible information supporting this theory. Some people believe this could pose a problem for its relationship with other hardware manufacturers, but Google has been in a similar situation ever since it purchased Motorola Mobility last year.
The thing is, I would actually prefer a tablet manufactured by Microsoft. The company is often referred to as the “Redmond-based software giant” for a reason, but it already manufactures quite a few devices. The Xbox 360 is Microsoft’s most prominent piece of hardware and – all red ring of death jokes aside – it has done extremely well for itself. The slimmer design introduced in 2010, in particular, is nearly flawless. The Zune hardware was also extremely well-made, especially the Zune HD. To this day, it is still my favorite portable media player by far. Microsoft’s hardware division also manufactures a wide range of peripherals, from keyboards and mice to webcams. I have had a fantastic experience with each and every piece of Microsoft-manufactured hardware I’ve ever used.
Secondly, Microsoft, quite frankly, can’t rely on its partners to manufacture a killer device. That’s not to say that they can’t put out some killer hardware, but Microsoft needs to ensure that it has a compelling answer to the iPad and – in some respects – the Kindle Fire. Apple has a perceived higher quality bar because it controls the entire end-to-end process, from designing the OS to manufacturing the hardware it runs on. Nobody knows the ins and outs of an OS as well as the software developer, so a Microsoft-manufactured tablet has a lot of potential.
Even if Microsoft doesn’t handle the actual manufacturing process, the company could design the device and hand it off to one of its partners like Nokia. Regardless, the possibility of a Microsoft-manufactured tablet has me genuinely excited. I’m looking forward to seeing what the device manufacturers have in store for Windows 8 and Windows RT tablets this fall, but nothing could beat a tablet straight from the minds at Microsoft.