We already know that Microsoft is holding an event on June 18 that is expected to focus on Windows 8 tablets, and according to the Redmond-based company, a "major" announcement is on its way. Insiders speaking to TheWrap claim that announcement will be a new, Microsoft-branded tablet that will compete directly with the iPad.

Microsoft is set to unveil a tablet next week that will mark its entry into rival Apple's territory with its own branded product, TheWrap has learned.

[…] an individual with knowledge of the company said that Microsoft would introduce a Microsoft-manufactured tablet at the event, marking a foray into a new hardware category that would put the company in direct competition with giant rival Apple.

These claims have been corroborated by an All Things D report which reveals their own, separate sources have been reporting the same information in recent weeks.

These insiders claim that Microsoft's tablet will be powered by an ARM microprocessor, which will run the Windows RT operating system. This is a special version of Windows 8 that is designed specifically for tablet devices with ARM-based processors.

Until now, the software giant has traditionally avoided making its own hardware, choosing instead to focus on operating systems and applications and leaving the rest to third-party vendors. And it has been encouraging those vendors, which include Samsung, Lenovo, and Nokia, to develop Windows tablets.

However, it is said that Microsoft has chosen to build its own slate after watching the iPad dominate the tablet market for so long.

Do you think Microsoft can compete with the iPad?

[via All Things D]