Throughout its existence, Microsoft has focused solely on making software that runs most of the world's personal computers, letting hardware makers design the machines, but its rival Apple, makes it all.
But things may change with Microsoft expected to launch a tablet computer of its own design, running a new version of its Windows operating system, The New York Times said, quoting people with knowledge of Microsoft's plans who declined to be identified discussing confidential matters.
For the first time in its 37-year history, the company will offer a computer of its own creation. The device will take on Apple's blockbuster iPad, which had begun to threaten Microsoft's dominance in the computer business.
According to analysts, Microsoft's move was another example of how Apple had demonstrated that the most effective way to create easy-to-use consumer gadgets was by building the whole package - in an approach contrary to the practice in the technology industry of companies focusing either hardware or software.
Google, too, seems to have taken a leaf from Apple, with its acquisition of Motorola Mobility last year that it would also design its own devices.
For Microsoft, the decision to make its own tablet would at one time have been almost unthinkable. Microsoft gained complete dominance of the PC market in the 1980s and 1990s by letting any hardware maker pay licensing fees to put Windows on its machines.