The speculation has been growing all weekend about what Microsoft will be announcing today. Last Thursday the company sent an email to press members requesting their presence in Los Angeles today. There was no word about what sort of product would be announced, or even what division would be making the announcement. “This will be a major Microsoft announcement – you will not want to miss it,” was the only hint.
The most reliable rumors so far seem to pin the topic of the event to a tablet launch. That doesn’t answer the question, though, of why Microsoft is choosing Los Angeles as a venue rather than something closer to its Redmond, Washington headquarters.
Now, TechCrunch is repeating the tablet rumor, but they’ve added some details. Citing “folks with knowledge of the situation,” they state that Microsoft and Barnes & Noble will be announcing a Kindle Fire-style tablet/e-reader. They also cite a different anonymous source as saying that the tablet will have Xbox LIVE streaming capabilities.
Both of these things are certainly a possibility, of course. Back in April it was announced that Microsoft and Barnes & Noble were coming together to form a company called NewCo, which would develop a NOOK app for Windows 8. Speculation about a NOOK device running Windows 8 has been making the rounds since then. As for the Xbox LIVE rumor, it’s clear from Microsoft’s E3 press conference that the company is hoping to make the Xbox brand the center of its Windows 8 gaming strategy.
If a Windows 8 Nook tablet streaming Xbox LIVE content is really today’s announcement, why didn’t the company debut it at E3 along with their SmartGlass technology? My guess is that the announcement will involve movie studios or record labels in some way. Perhaps the Zune brand will finally be put to rest with the debut of Xbox Music. Whatever the truth may be, we will all find out today when the Microsoft event starts at 6:30 EDT.