(Concept Surface phone by YrOnimuS)
Yesterday we wrote a fairly lengthy article about a new rumor of a Microsoft Windows Phone. The source came via China Times and we were hesitant to believe the claim—after all, no evidence or sources were mentioned.
Still, we pointed out that Microsoft is a large company with a ton of resources. If they wanted to do a phone, they most certainly could pull it off and the Surface Tablets only reinforce the notion that they can do this in secret.
So what has changed? Information has come forward to Windows Phone Central that demonstrates Microsoft does have their own Windows Phone hardware in the works; in fact, we’ve heard it already exists and is in testing. The source(s) are known to us and not anonymous, though for obvious reasons we must keep them off the record.
Details about what it looks like, hardware specifications, launch times, etc. have not been shared with us by the person(s) who have provided the information. The only thing we do know is when compared to current WP8 hardware it’s something unique.
Something awry between Microsoft and Nokia?
Why is Microsoft doing this?
We speculated yesterday on two possible angles for Microsoft doing their own phone.
One was the Google-Nexus route of selling their own hardware, direct to customers with no carrier interference. Sold through Microsoft Store, the devices could fill in a niche for Microsoft while their OEM partners can have the carriers. This would allow Microsoft to have their own "vision" of Windows Phone and a way to update the devices directly, with no one compromising their vision. In addition, their OEMs will mostly be kept "happy" since unlocked phones are not the crux of their business model.
The other reason we raised was Microsoft maybe wanted a contingency plan—in case the Windows Phone 8 launch doesn’t go well and the currently announced devices don’t catch on. Nokia could be in trouble financially and Microsoft would need another dedicated hardware partner.
A third possibility we've been hearing about for a weeks is tougher to swallow. We have heard rumblings about Nokia focusing too much on the “Lumia” brand as opposed to Windows Phone, which may explain why Microsoft put HTC on a pedestal with the “signature” Windows Phone banter a few weeks ago in New York City.
Interestingly, BGR.com just ran a story where they too are confirming a Microsoft Windows Phone. They note they learned about it weeks ago and our sources appear to be different from theirs (our info came this morning). They do note that it is a “high end” phone but it will not launch with the 1st wave of Windows Phone 8 devices.
Microsoft Studio C
Microsoft on Lockdown
In an interesting and perhaps related story, the reputable site GeekWire is reporting that areas of the Microsoft campus have substantially beefed up security in recent weeks:
“The company notified employees this week that it will be implementing new physical security measures — limiting employee access at four key Xbox and Interactive Entertainment Business buildings to ensure confidentiality of upcoming products.”
“The changes will affect Microsoft Studios A, B, C, and D, on the west side of state Route 520, starting early next month with Studio A and rolling out to the other buildings by the end of the month.”
GeekWire is rightly claiming this is most likely related to next-gen Xbox console testing, but from our own knowledge Microsoft has some Windows Phone "things" happening in Building C too.
With a Microsoft branded Windows Phone entering into late stages of development, it would make sense that much like the Surface tablets, they would begin to implement tighter security around campus.