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Like Apple, Microsoft rumored to be creating tablet

Just as they compete in numerous other markets, Microsoft and Apple could be going head to head with new touchscreen tablet devices in the near future, if a new rumor proves true.

ZDNet's Mary-Jo Foley said she has received a number of tips that the Windows Maker is at work on a tablet device, part of something known as "Alchemy Ventures." She speculated that Microsoft would likely wait to show off the hardware until after Apple unveils its own long-rumored tablet device.

Rumored to be a part of the team are Chief Experience Officer J Allard, as well as one executive from the Microsoft Surface team.

"No word on whether Microsoft will field a Microsoft-branded Surface/Tablet combo or rely on one or more hardware partners to produce multiple designs," Foley wrote.

Though it has not been confirmed by the Cupertino, Calif., company, Apple is believed to be working on a 10-inch 3G-enabled multi-touch device. Sources have told AppleInsider that the new hardware will debut in early 2010.

Foley went on to note that Microsoft apparently intends to get out of the hardware business, with only a few more iterations of its Zune hardware before the functionality becomes a part of mobile phones. In addition, she said Microsoft intends to work more closely with a smaller number of manufacturers for its mobile devices in the future. Given this information, it is possible that a Microsoft-branded device could be made in partnership with one or a few third-party manufacturers, based on specifications from the Windows maker.

In the same post, Foley also provides an update on Pink, the code name for Microsoft's rumored iPhone competitor. She said the device will be Microsoft branded, but will not be manufactured by Apple's rival to the north. The device is also said to feature "premium mobile services," like the Zune. It is also rumored to be built on the Windows Mobile 7 operating system, set to launch in late 2010.

Foley said she believes Microsoft will likely show off Pink at the Consumer Electronics show in January, as the software giant has already hired an advertising agency to promote the device.