TechCrunch's sources aren't saying much, but they do claim that this tablet is going to be a sales platform for content. To be more exact:
We’re being told that a tablet/ereader built in conjunction with Barnes & Noble is on tap and that it will be entertainment driven.
This could be that ereader MS has been wanting to do, and it could also be the entire reason Microsoft got into the partnership with B&N. While I don't see this new device as an ereader, Microsoft and B&N might. And if you take the Nook Color as their idea of an ereader, this prediction makes some sense.
In the NookColor/Nook Tablet B&N has taken an Android tablet and locked it down. Users (I'm not calling them owners) are limited to buying content from B&N (apps and ebooks) or from B&N's approved sources (Netflix, Pandora, and more). This model isn't too far from the game console business model, and that kind of control might appeal to Microsoft.
If the TechCrunch rumor is correct, we could be looking at a 7" Zune. And I'm not kidding.
Okay, I don't really expect them to call it a Zune (that name is cursed) but it would follow along a similar model. The Zune was an entertainment driven device and Microsoft did sell content for it. If I'm correct then I'm going to predict that this won't run Windows RT; no, I expect it to run Windows Phone 7 so it can take advantage of the marketplace Microsoft has been building as well as the existing content store. Of course, that last bit is dependent on the new Zune launching soon. If the device gets delayed then we could see it run Windows RT after all.
P.S. If anyone wants to leak info to me, please do.