A few days ago, the New York Times predicted that Microsoft might soon unveil a Windows 8 tablet "of its own design." The Wall Street Journal is now throwing its weight behind the rumor, and it has some interesting speculation about Microsoft's possible motives.
The company has been pushing hardware makers to release ARM-based Windows RT-powered tablets, the paper says. However, according to IDC analyst Crawford Del Prete, those hardware makers "have expressed some hesitation about the devices . . . in part because they are expensive to make and it is uncertain that anyone wants to buy them." By releasing and heavily promoting the first Windows RT tablet, Microsoft could jumpstart the new category—though, obviously, at the risk of miffing some of its partners.
That actually ties in with an old Bloomberg story from a few months back. Bloomberg predicted a cornucopia of Intel-powered Windows 8 devices, but it said "fewer than five" Windows RT devices would be available at the operating system's launch. That certainly doesn't suggest a high level of excitement among Microsoft's hardware partners.
In any case, we'll be able to confirm the veracity of the rumors soon enough. The WSJ says Microsoft is poised to unveil the device at an event in Los Angeles later today. Another story by the Associated Press says Microsoft's announcement will come "after the market closes" today.