October is a big month for Microsoft: In the coming weeks, we will see the company herald in its next-generation Windows 8 platform, as well as the PC-software maker’s first self-branded tablet. As the release dates for both Windows 8 and Microsoft’s Surface draw near, information has emerged about the firm’s future plans.
On Monday, The China Times was the first to report Microsoft's possible plans to create its own smartphone, and two days later, it looks like those rumors may be confirmed. Insiders told The Verge on Wednesday that although the company has no plans to release its own Windows Phone this year, Microsoft has not denied its existence in 2013.
“We are big believers in our hardware partners and together we’re focused on bringing Windows Phone 8 to market with them,” a Microsoft spokesperson told the tech news source.
Nokia’s pair of Lumia devices will introduce Windows Phone 8 to the mobile market this November, and Microsoft’s own devices are considered a “Plan B” at this point, The Verge reports. The website was told that a Surface-type phone is likely, and the soonest debut would be early 2013.
Windows 8 represents a turning point in Microsoft’s branding—the company’s strength always lied in manufacturing software for PC products but this is its first major step in the mobile direction. Microsoft had offered previous Windows Phone devices and its Zune MP3 player, but it has never incorporated a touchscreen interface into one of its PC operating systems.
Microsoft has never found a way to make its mobile devices really stick with users, but the Surface tablet’s launch alongside Windows 8 could change that. If successful, this could mark a whole new branding of Windows 8 devices, beginning with the tablet and expanding to Surface phones in 2013.
The Surface will give Microsoft the option to test various approaches before launching other mobile products. This could lead to a subscription based service like its $99 Xbox 360 deal, or a bundle package included in Windows Phone 8 purchases.
Waiting to see if the Surface tablet and Nokia’s Windows Phone 8 Lumias gain traction is certainly a smart move for Microsoft. The company’s first mobile phone launch in 2010, the Kin, was aimed at users still transitioning from basic feature phones to smartphones, with a large social media focus. While this may sound like a prosperous notion, the phone flopped so horribly that it was discontinued within the same year.
And now, more than two years later, Microsoft is taking a stab at launching its own tablet. With an improved app selection and fresh OS, the Surface should have a better shot at thriving in the mobile economy then Microsoft’s previous phone.
There is still little to be known about this smartphone that Microsoft has reportedly been working on, but the world will get its first glimpse at Windows Phone 8 next month, and the Surface later this month on Oct. 26.
Lisa Eadicicco is a reporter covering mobile technology and video games for The International Business Times. Lisa joined the editorial team at IBT in January 2012, and has...