Microsoft's alleged iPad killer is a not-so-true Hollywood story

Will Microsoft unveil its own branded tablet in Los Angeles next week? Sure -- and Steve Ballmer is a heavy metal rock star

The Internet rumor mill has been in overdrive lately, throwing sparks and belching fumes. That's nothing new. What's strange is those rumors have nothing to do with Apple -- at least, not directly.

It started earlier this week with the notion that South Korean electronics giant Samsung was cooking up its own social network to rival Facebook. Yes, that is an entirely ridiculous notion, but since when did that ever stop the Interwebbers from spreading it around like cream cheese on a bagel?

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Now, it seems, we're looking at big news from Microsoft. Apparently, the Redmond renegades have scheduled a big press fandango on Monday afternoon in Los Angeles. What are they planning to announce? A new Microsoft-branded iPad-killing tablet.

Or so says The Wrap, a Hollywood news and rumor site whose other stories tend toward critiques of Tom Cruise's turn as hair metal rock star and Kevin Costner's successful lawsuit against one of the Baldwins. In other words, it's not the place one usually goes for tech scoops.

According to "an individual with knowledge of the company ... Microsoft would introduce a Microsoft-manufactured tablet at the event," says The Wrap. That is the sum total of all the information contained in that report, which has now been repeated by approximately 19,347 other sites (including InfoWorld).

A raft of tablets based on Windows RT are coming in Q4, this much we already know. So why announce something now? Why choose a venue in Los Angeles? And who is this "individual with knowledge of the company?" Heck, I'm an individual with knowledge of Microsoft, but I can't tell you what it's going to do next (though I'd be happy to speculate for a small fee).

I'm not buying it. My gut tells me this announcement is going to confirm the report that Microsoft is indeed acquiring Yammer for $1.2 billion, as the Wall Street Journal reported earlier this week. (Others disagree with that assessment.) The Microsoft-friendly WSJ is the company's traditional source for intentional leaks, and it is typical for the Journal to have the news a few days before the rest of us mere mortals.

I'm not saying Microsoft won't come out with its own branded tablet. Or even, as ZDnet's Mary Jo Foley speculates, a device more akin to the Amazon Fire, using the Windows Phone 7 OS. It seems unlikely that Microsoft would announce its own Windows RT tablet ahead of all of its hardware OEM partners. It might come out with a WinPho consumer device built by Nokia, though. Despite its silly name and total failure in the marketplace, the Zune media player was actually a pretty slick device.

The real question I have: Is Microsoft going Hollywood? Now there's a concept I'd pay to see. Maybe Steve Ballmer will don a wig and make a cameo in "Rock of Ages II: Heavy Metal Boogaloo." Rock on, dude.

What do you think Microsoft will announce? Cast your predictions below or shoot me a note: cringe@infoworld.com.

This article, "Microsoft's alleged iPad killer is a not-so-true Hollywood story," was originally published at InfoWorld.com. Follow the crazy twists and turns of the tech industry with Robert X. Cringely's Notes from the Field blog, and subscribe to Cringely's Notes from the Underground newsletter.

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