Microsoft has a mysterious and somewhat secretive event planned for Monday, and tonight rumors about just what the company will be announcing are starting to fly. They began with The Wrap reporting that it heard the company would be announcing a Microsoft-manufactured tablet, All Things D followed with its own sources saying Microsoft wanted to take on the iPad directly, and finally we have analysis from Mary Jo Foley pointing in a slightly different — but still intriguing — direction. She suggests that Microsoft may aim not for Apple, but Amazon. There's quite a lot of smoke here, but is there fire? More to the point, is there a competitor not to the iPad, but to the Kindle Fire?
That could be the best interpretation of the tea leaves Microsoft has left scattered around the web recently. First and foremost, Microsoft entered into a deal with Barnes & Noble to invest money into the Nook business. The fine print in that deal contained dozens of references to Windows Phone and at least one reference to a "Microsoft Reader." Foley wonders if a Nokia-made, Microsoft-branded 7-inch tablet is a possibility.
Could a Nokia-made, Microsoft-branded 7-inch tablet be a possibility?
A 7-inch tablet running some variant of Windows Phone could make more sense than a full-on iPad competitor running Windows RT if only because it would be less likely to offend PC manufacturers. Additionally, the timing is interesting, as it would come just before Google I/O, where Google is expected to announce a new 7-inch tablet running Android.
As long as we're stringing together tales of Microsoft strategy and strokes of genius, let's not forget that Redmond is significantly ahead of the competition when it comes to the living room. Microsoft has content partnerships set up with several providers and was rumored to have something even more ambitious planned back in January before it put "Microsoft TV" on pause. It's hard to ignore the fact that this event is happening in Los Angeles, which could signal that there are content partnerships involved in this announcement. There's also SmartGlass, which will be cross-platform but would also clearly have a place in this story, perhaps with features exclusive to this platform.
That's a lot of dreamy speculation, but the grounded facts are these: Microsoft is announcing something big on Monday, and we'll be there live when it happens.