updated 09:40 am EDT, Mon September 21, 2009
Microsoft Pure, Turtle and tablet rumors
Microsoft's Pink project for its own, self-branded smartphones has gained credibility through a series of leaks in recent hours. Veteran observer Mary Jo Foley maintains the project is real and will provide a software overlay for Windows Mobile 7 with a strong focus on services, most likely involving the Zune Video Marketplace as well as a possible Zune Pass music subscription. One or more stand a chance of being previewed at CES in January, but the OS itself isn't due until the second half of 2010.
Added details that surfaced this weekend point to two models headlining the month. The Pure seen by 9 to 5 Mac would be a conventional slider design while the Turtle (pictured in outline) would be a square, vertical slider not unlike the Motorola Hint. Both would take advantage of Microsoft's buyout of Sidekick creator Danger and would be made by Danger's frequent hardware partner sharp, with "Microsoft+Sharp" branding on the back. They would use a Sidekick-like app store with carrier billing, although whether or not the Windows Marketplace for Mobile would sit alongside it isn't clear.
It's suspected that all Pink-based phones may have to follow a hardware guideline and initially focus on high-end media phones using advanced processors like the NVIDIA Tegra or Texas Instruments' OMAP models.
Additionally, Microsoft is now poised to get back into tablet devices in earnest with one of its own. The project is seen by Foley as being built under an "Alchemy Ventures" group and being headed up both by members of the Surface team as well as former Xbox and Zune team leader J Allard. Few details are available, but it may involve a specific product as 9 to 5 has heard of a tablet being in a "late prototype stage" rather than just Microsoft's past approach of simply modifying Windows to add tablet support for others' computers. When and with what features the tablet would ship are still uncertain.
Both the phone and tablet efforts represent an attempt to reverse course for Microsoft, whose Windows Mobile has lost market share in phones to much newer platform entries like Android and iPhone. It has also focused most of its tablet efforts so far on adding multi-touch to Windows 7 for conventional tablet PCs rather than a dedicated device. Producing one of the latter might put it into direct competition with a rumored Apple tablet that may use the iPhone OS.