No Barnes & Noble at today’s Microsoft event [Report]

If you were looking forward to Microsoft announcing that it would be going after Amazon tonight, sorry. You’re going to have to readjust your expectations.

According to Dow Jones, via Business Insider, the idea that the event would have something to do with the book seller is “not true at all”.

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A Barnes & Noble spokesperson has also confirmed that the company will have nothing to do with the event.

If Microsoft is indeed releasing a tablet, it now seems more likely that it’ll be going after the iPad than the Kindle Fire.

You’ve got to wonder how that’ll go down with all of big tech brands that have promised Windows 8 tablets of their own. Just look at Google. Sure Android’s winning the mobile OS wars by some distance, but there was palpable panic in the industry when the internet giant bought Motorola.

On the other hand, the previews we’ve had of Windows 8 suggest that it will be an amazing tablet OS, possibly even at the expense of the desktop experience.

Gartner research vice president Carolina Milanesi reckons that businesses will be especially keen on Windows 8 tablets: “IT departments will see Windows 8 as the opportunity to deploy tablets on an OS that is familiar to them and with devices offered by many enterprise-class suppliers,” she said.

Here’s the thing though, great OS’ don’t always translate into sales. The latest iteration of Windows Phone is great, especially on Nokia’s Lumia range. But Microsoft now owns less of the market than it did last year.

Brilliant as iOS is, Apple’s winning the tablet wars because it knows how to do stunning design and because it introduced the general public to the idea of tablet computing.

I’ve explained tablets from other manufacturers to elderly relatives, and their response is generally something along the lines of “Oh, like an iPad”. To them tablets are iPads in the same way as vacuum cleaners are Hoovers.

Can Microsoft emulate that passion for design and ease-of-use? The Zune suggests not. On the other hand, it’s managed to become a powerful player in the gaming console market by carefully refining successive generations of the Xbox and constantly pushing the boundaries of what’s possible with a console.

If Microsoft wants a realistic chance at making a dent in the tablet market, it’ll have to pull out something that looks fantastic, performs like nothing else on the planet, and is easy enough for your granny to use.

I guess we’ll find out in a few hours’ time.

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