What if the rumored 'Microsoft tablet' isn't a Windows tablet?

Rumors around Microsoft's June 18 announcement are taking a new turn towards some kind of Microsoft-branded tablet. Could this be an Amazon Kindle Fire competitor?
Written by Mary Jo Foley, Senior Contributing Editor

The guesses on Microsoft's June 18 announcement are continuing to fly fast and furiously (if not fluidly).

The latest round are centering around Microsoft's big announcement being some kind of a Microsoft-manufactured tablet. If these rumors are true, I'm wondering whether the coming device might be more of a rival to the Amazon Kindle Fire than the iPad.

I don't have any brand-new rumors or tips to contribute on this topic. But I will revisit some of what we know about Microsoft's tablet and slate strategies.

Microsoft brass have continued to hint over the past year-plus that the company expects to see some kind of a Metro-centric reader to come to market.

They have never actually said such a device will run Windows 8 or even Windows on ARM/Windows RT. That has led me and others to speculate whether a Microsoft tablet -- if such a device ever DID come to market -- might be a Windows Embedded or, more likely, a Windows Phone OS device.

If such a "reader" were more akin to the Kindle Fire than to an iPad, a Los Angeles launch might make sense. Think this through. A Kindle Fire is an entertainment/consumption device. It is great for movie watching and music listening (hello, LA!) It also lets you read books (hello, Barnes & Noble). And remember: The settlement/contract between B&N and Microsoft mentioned Windows Phone. A lot. (In between all the redactions in that document.)

So if there's a Microsoft "reader" coming on Monday --and that's still a big if -- maybe it's meant to to be more of a Fire killer than an iPad competitor In other words, it's going to be a consumption-first device, not a creation one. What if that device is based on Windows Phone. And maybe even made for Microsoft by Nokia and private-labeled by Microsoft?

Yes, this is nothing but a bunch of "what ifs" at this point. But maybe a Microsoft Kindle Fire competitor is what we're talking about for a Monday reveal... and not a true iPad competitor (which is what the coming bunch of Windows RT tablets, the first of which are expected to launch in Q4 of this year, are supposed to be)....

Any updated/new guesses about what Microsoft has coming on Monday? And, again, as I said before, this is NOT looking to be the expected Microsoft-Yammer acquisition announcement....

Update: As a few of my readers have noted, there's no reason this device couldn't be a Windows RT tablet -- even if it is positioned as a Kindle Fire competitor.

It could run the Metro-fied Windows RT (Windows on ARM) operating system; be built by another company (Nokia or other); powered by the B&N Store on the back-end; and labeled as a "Microsoft tablet." (Microsoft doesn't technically manufacture the Xbox, either, though it is considered a Microsoft device.)

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