updated 10:21 am EDT, Mon June 18, 2012
Fresh rumors focus on Monday's mystery event
[Update: official response from Barnes & Noble] Rumors surrounding Microsoft's mystery announcement have continued to swirl, with the latest reports pointing to a tablet developed through a collaborative effort with bookseller Barnes & Noble. Previous rumors claim the imminent event will focus on a Microsoft-branded tablet powered by Windows, however unnamed sources have told TechCrunch that the surprise is actually a tablet/e-reader featuring Xbox Live streaming.
Details surrounding either rumor remain scant, though the latest sources suggest Microsoft and Barnes & Noble are finally ready to unveil the fruits of their strategic partnership that was inked in April. Such a quick turnaround may come as a surprise, as the partnership had emerged as part of a settlement in a long-running patent battle over Android technology.
The companies formed an e-reading partnership under the generic name Newco, with majority ownership remaining in Barnes & Noble's hands and a $300 million minority stake held by Microsoft. The deal was expected to result in an e-book distribution channel for Windows 8, while opening the possibility of a Windows RT-powered e-reader to compete with the Kindle Fire.
The event's Los Angeles venue is perceived as evidence that Microsoft will focus on entertainment capabilities, potentially extending its Xbox Live ecosystem onto third-party hardware for the first time. It is unclear if such a move would include any form of gaming functionality, or limit access to video and music.
Microsoft at E3 previewed its SmartGlass technology, which utilizes a Windows Phone or a Windows tablet to enhance Xbox gaming, web browsing on a television, and video playback. The company promised to bring the technology to other platforms, such as Android and iOS.
The LA event is said to be scheduled for 3:30pm PDT, and invitees will not be informed of the venue until later this morning.
Update: Barnes & Noble has responded to the rumor by explicitly denying that it is involved in Microsoft's Monday announcement. [via BGR and Benzinga]