In the wake of last week's Windows 8 demos, it's pretty clear Microsoft's new operating system will power a whole host of new tablet devices when it comes out next year. Could Microsoft decide to compete head-on with the tablet makers to whom it sells the OS? Yes, according to DigiTimes, which says the company is thinking about introducing its own, all-Microsoft tablet in late 2012.
The Microsoft-branded device would reportedly feature hardware from Texas Instruments and would be produced "with cooperation" from Taiwan hardware makers. On the branding front, word is that we can expect something similar to what Microsoft already did with the Xbox, Zune, and Kin phones. Pointing to the relatively unsuccessful performance of the latter two devices, DigiTimes notes that Microsoft will proceed into the tablet hardware world with a "low profile."
I don't think this story is all that implausible. Microsoft pretty clearly has a cohesive vision for what it wants to do in the tablet world—hence the complaints from hardware makers like Acer about it being too involved. That firm's CEO said last month that Microsoft is "really controlling the whole thing" and folks on the hardware side "all feel it’s very troublesome."
Perhaps a Microsoft-branded line of Windows 8 slates would end up like Google's Nexus phones: relatively low-key products that serve to crystallize the software maker's vision and maybe serve as a benchmark for other devices in the category.