What I Want: Microsoft’s Mystery Announcement

So my “What I Want” series continues, long after E3 has ended (and of course without me commenting on Nintendo’s announcements. Le sigh.). Today Microsoft is announcing something, but apparently no one has any idea what it is. This is how things have (officially, I’m dismissing “leaks” of potentially fake documents) gone down so far…

1. Microsoft invites tech press to a mystery event at 3:30PM PST in LA (Windows Phone and most gaming press are not included)
2. Nokia announces an event for Monday as well
3. Nokia says that their event is not related
4. Speculation begins that this is a Kindle Fire-type tablet announcement, perhaps related to Microsoft’s recent partnership with Barnes and Noble
5. Barnes and Noble says they are not part of this announcement
6. Microsoft says the announcement will take place at Milk Studios (a design studio of some sort)

So, what is being announced? I don’t have any inside knowledge, but here’s my line of thinking:

Microsoft apparently didn’t invite gaming outlets to the event, which seems to rule out an Xbox-centric announcement. Plus, E3 just came and went. Why wouldn’t they announce an Xbox thing there? Maybe it’ll have some ties to Xbox (Video and music) but not an Xbox branded product. Same goes for Windows Phone.

The invitations to this went out not long after Nokia announced yet another disappointing quarter. Perhaps this is a play by Microsoft to generate excitement around future Nokia Windows 8/WinRT tablets and boost their stock? Friends help friends.

Barnes and Noble speculation came and went. Not happening.

Unfortunately, I have a feeling that what I want and what I think will happen are two different things.

What I WANT to see is a Nokia manufactured tablet running WinRT that can compete with the iPad on specs. Microsoft has kept the lid on WinRT, so much so that we’ve only seen one manufacturer show off even a prototype device. What if that’s because Nokia has first dibs? I’d guess that Nokia wanted to have a big reveal at Nokia World, but their financial situation has become increasingly dire and they need to generate some buzz after a somewhat lackluster Lumia launch. Instead, they accelerated their plans and are launching their first tablet ASAP. This situation probably wouldn’t allow for a “available now” shock that I think Microsoft needs for a tablet, but it’d probably give Nokia’s stock a nice bump.

Sadly, I don’t think that’s what we’re going to get. I think Nokia is hoping they can generate some excitement by launching the PureView 808 in the US and ride it to Nokia World where they’ll show off new Windows Phones and a Windows RT/8 tablet or two and make a big push back into the limelight.

What I think we’ll see is… I really don’t know. As I’ve been typing this my mind has changed a bit. I thought the Kindle Fire-like tablet made sense, but there are so many questions around it. What OS would it run? Giant Windows Phone? WinRT? Or (shudder) something new? Is Microsoft manufacturing it? Why isn’t Barnes and Noble involved? How does it fit into the new shared Microsoft ecosystem? Why announce it today?

Another thought is that this isn’t hardware at all, and simply a partnership of some kind or a purchase of something like Hulu. But why invite people to come to an event for that when you can just put out a press release? No, they want people to take pictures of something.

I could also be totally wrong about it not being Xbox related, and this could be the long rumored set-top Xbox with some kind of fancy tablet controller/remote (Think Wii U). Did Microsoft just want to see what Nintendo was going to do before making their play? But why didn’t they invite the gaming press?


We’ll find out in a few hours!

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