'Zune phone' patent application: It ain't ZenZui

Co-founder of 'zoomable interface' start-up confirms that a Microsoft patent application doesn't have anything to do with them.

The mysterious patent application image Mad4MobilePhones

Earlier this week, Microsoft filed what appeared to be a patent application for a smart phone interface, causing many a blog to begin speculating that maybe it was for a "Zune phone" (for better or for worse)--something that's been talked about for some time now. The images in the application, showing a tiled graphical interface, definitely look somewhat iPhone-ish, and plenty of buzz arose that perhaps Microsoft was trying to develop an "iPhone killer."

ZenZui's tiled user interface ZenZui

But a few sharp eyes (namely, those of our Microsoft guru Ina Fried) noticed that the interface also bore a striking resemblance to that of the software made by ZenZui, the Seattle-based mobile Web start-up that's using Microsoft's research labs to develop a "zoomable" user interface for smart phones. (Not to be confused with Deepfish, a "zoomable interface" browser developed by Microsoft Labs that aims to facilitate Web surfing on small screens.)

So we called up ZenZui to check it out. But company co-founder John SanGiovanni was quick to debunk the speculation: the patent application, he said, does not depict a "zoomable" interface and is unrelated to ZenZui's technology. As for what it actually was, he said he didn't know.

So maybe it is a "Zune phone." Or not. I suppose tiled interfaces are just rather hot right now.

About the author

Caroline McCarthy, a CNET News staff writer, is a downtown Manhattanite happily addicted to social-media tools and restaurant blogs. Her pre-CNET resume includes interning at an IT security firm and brewing cappuccinos.


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