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Microsoft planning to launch its own tablet... again

Microsoft has scheduled an event on Monday, June 18 in Los Angeles. According to AllThingsD and other sources, the topic of this event will be Microsoft's unveiling of its very own tablet hardware.

This is not the first time Microsoft has tried to tackle the tablet space. As anyone who hates the iPad will be happy to tell you, Windows-powered tablets existed for almost a full decade before Apple's device hit the market. Not too long before Apple introduced the iPad, Microsoft went up in front of the crowds at CES 2010 and proclaimed its partnership with HP in creating the Slate (pictured above), a product that hit the market with an unceremonious thud.

Microsoft also investigated another tablet project, the dual-screen Courier, before the iPad was even announced. The project was killed within days of the original iPad's launch.

The point? Microsoft has a great track record for planning tablet launches, but its execution leaves much to be desired. Just like the Zune, a Microsoft tablet is entering a market dominated by Apple and a handful of also-rans. And we all know how the Zune turned out.

Just like with the iPod, Microsoft is going to have to answer the all-important question: "Why should I buy this thing from Microsoft instead of what Apple's selling?" As AllThingsD points out, Microsoft also runs the risk of alienating its hardware partners should it launch its own tablet; but on the other hand, Google has done the same thing with Android, so PC makers like Dell, HP, and Lenovo may feel they have nowhere left to go.

Perhaps Microsoft has something truly magical and revolutionary up its sleeve for its Monday event. Maybe its tablet will be more Xbox than Zune in terms of its success. But based on the past decade of "innovation" coming out of Redmond, I truly wouldn't count on it.

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