new Microsoft tabletCould Microsoft be planning on launching its own mobile tablet? According to rumors and reports, all signs point to a resounding yes.

DigiTimes reports that the company is seriously mulling a launch of its own tablet PC, which it will create in collaboration with Texas Instruments and Taiwanese manufacturing partners. The sources in the publication have not been named.

The tablet is expected to launch at the end of 2012 and feature Windows 8, which will have an interface less like traditional Windows and more like the Windows Phone.

The reason for Microsoft’s change of heart and willingness to jump on the tablet bandwagon could stem from Apple’s incredible success with its iPad and iPad 2. It may also be due in part to the fact that, overall, Microsoft’s own non-PC related product strategy has been met with lukewarm reception. Of all its non-PC products (Zune, Kin smartphone, TVs), only the Xbox 360 has been truly successful for Microsoft.

Coming into the tablet game this late could prove to be beneficial for Microsoft, since the company can ride the tablet wave and capitalize on customer reviews of the tablets currently on the market.

If the rumors prove to be true, it looks like Apple, Samsung, and other tablet manufacturers may have some major competition come 2012.

Updated on May 30, 2012

While there's been no confirmation of a Microsoft-branded tablet as of yet, Windows 8 is being designed with the touchscreen in mind, and a number of PC manufacturers have indicated that they will be releasing Windows 8 tablets in the second half of 2012.

Lenovo's IdeaPad Yoga was previewed at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas in January. Its standout feature is a 360-degree display hinge, allowing it to go from a closed clamshell to an open laptop to a standing display to a portable tablet, with the keyboard on the bottom facing down.

HP, Dell, and Asus will also be making Windows 8 tablets, with Dell possibly building another convertible laptop.

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