updated 06:20 pm EDT, Sun August 8, 2010
Microsoft Menlo spotted early
Microsoft's largely mysterious Menlo project has been caught running through a newly discovered research paper (PDF). A 4.1-inch, capacitive touch prototype said to be Menlo, although also identified as using Windows Embedded CE 6.0 R2, has been used to show an example of an app codenamed Greenfield that would use an accelerometer, a barometer and more to provide in-building navigation. What's special about Menlo isn't detailed, but the app would give directions involving stairs and elevators rather than just 2D positioning.
Clues as to the nature have instead come from the responsibilities of those behind the paper. Galen Hunt is head of the project and has designed core OS components, compilers and other code. Amy Karlson has developed "Courier," which is not the cancelled dual-screen tablet but rather a cross-platform file system that would simplify transfers between PCs and phones. The efforts support beliefs that Microsoft is developing a mobile OS core, possibly closer to the desktop Windows NT roots than CE, that could run on more than either ARM or x86 processors.
Despite requiring a prototype, it's unlikely that Menlo will be another self-developed phone but could instead part or all of a future version of Windows Phone or Windows CE. The company's current mobile OS strategy has been a significant blow to its attempts to compete against the iPad and in smartphones as it can't share significant pieces of code. It has been forced to sacrifice interface and battery life for Windows 7, such as on the HP Slate, or else revert to a lesser-featured and incompatible OS that runs on ARM, whether it's Windows Phone 7 or another Windows CE variant such as Windows Embedded Compact 7. [via ZDNet]