Microsoft is in works to launch a touch-screen multimedia cell phone in an effort to challenge the Apple iPhone.
The Redmond, Wash-based company has historically made software for cellphone manufacturers, but its latest effort -- internally called Project Pink -- will mark the first time a phone will bear its name.
Analysts believe the phone could debut within a month at the Mobile World Congress conference in Barcelona, or perhaps CTIA a month later.
The project aims to produce a phone that will extend Microsoft's reach of Windows Mobile operating system, as well as adding new software capabilities.
We believe the phone will be based on WindowsMobile7, which has not yet been made generally available, according to analyst Katherine Egbert of Jefferies.
Egbert believes the device would also likely include Microsoft's new Windows Marketplace for Mobile, a store for cellphone downloads along the lines of Apple's App Store.
Windows Mobile was one of the first challengers to Research In Motion's dominant Blackberry platform, but the recent entries of Apple's iPhone platform has helped to push Microsoft usage lower.
Apple had around 8.9 million users last October, according to market data by ComScore. Blackberry had nearly 15 million users, while Microsoft trailed with 7 million.
The tech giant hopes the tide will turn in its direction with this launch.
Revenue from the phone is also very unlikely to be meaningful for many years, Egbert says. However, the new phone might explain why Microsoft has allowed WinMo to dwindle to [less than] 10 percent mobile OS market share.
Pink would be the 'third screen' (after Windows and Xbox) and final component in Microsoft's 3 screens and a cloud strategy.
Analysts expect Pink to be a Zune-like phone, which includes 720p HD video and at least a 5 mega pixel camera.