Whatever Microsoft is up to, they are sure up to something big.

Long Zheng (iStartedSomething) has taken a look-see at the update Zune desktop software, which just came out today.

Going through the .inf file (responsible for identifying the driver, associating the device with USB) he was able to find a few lines of code that, for the first time, specifically reference a phone.

In fact, there are three hardware Product IDs associated with the 'phone' class in addition the the three current Zune players (see above image).

Zheng also contemplates whether this is just part of a larger integration with Windows Mobile and his tentative conclusion is 'no' stating 

Whilst it is possible there might be system-wide Zune integration into Windows Mobile 7, this particular driver references specific hardware IDs that are locked to a vendor (Microsoft) and product which under USB body regulations cannot be masked, thus this has to be Microsoft devices. 

That's right folks, it looks like we are looking a three-pronged strategy from Microsoft:

The big question is what is the Zune phone built on?  We wouldn't be surprised if it's not WinCE based but something different, putting it outside the class of Windows Mobile devices.  

Does this lend more credence to the idea that the 'Zune phone' is targeted towards the younger crowd and will be released within the next two months as one analyst has claimed?  Maybe the "Project Pink is DOA" story was Microsoft doing its own spinning? Like we've said, next month will be real interesting and we'll be there to cover it...

[via iStartedSomething]