Microsoft’s ability to keep secrets was proven earlier this year when the Surface launched, and no one know it was coming. Unlike recent Apple products, for which there is a cottage industry of leaked parts prior to announcements, Microsoft successfully kept its first consumer tablet a secret until launch day.
Not so with its purported first phone. While we’ve heard rumblings of the sort in recent weeks, the Wall Street Journal is claiming that Microsoft is indeed testing its own Windows Phone 8 device, but it may not actually see the light of day. The company is waiting to gauge the reception of its partners’ products — Nokia’s Lumia 820 and 920, HTC’s 8X and 8S, and Samsung’s ATIV S — before committing to bringing the phone to market. Unlike Android vendors, Microsoft keeps its phone hardware partners on a short leash, so few of the software elements can be changed. And even Nokia thinks it would be a good idea for Microsoft to release its own phone.
Apparently this Surface phone is being tested by Asian vendors, and has a screen resolution of between four and five inches — not exactly helpful, but encouraging information. Initially, Microsoft had planned to releases its own phone in time for the holiday season, but its intentions could have changed in the past few weeks. It’s possible that the company is waiting for sales numbers of its Surface tablet in order to see whether consumers are willing to buy into Microsoft as a device company.