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Microsoft: No plans for branded phone -- not yet, at least

Phone executive knocks down rumors that a Microsoft-branded handset is in the works.

Windows Phone 8 start screen demo

Microsoft may be making a branded tablet, but that doesn't mean it plans to extend the same strategy to phones.

Information Week quoted Greg Sullivan, the senior marketing manager for Windows Phone, shooting down that rumor. Asked in an interview whether Microsoft planned to apply that strategy to the smartphone market, Sullivan said: "No. We do not."

The denial came after Nomura analyst Rick Sherlund last week floated the idea in a research note -- though he did not suggest Microsoft had firm plans to build its own phone. "It is unclear to us whether this would be a reference platform or whether this may be a go-to-market Microsoft-branded handset," according to Sherlund, who wrote that "we would not be surprised if Microsoft were to decide to bring their own handset to market next year given that Microsoft has decided to bring to market their own Windows 8 Surface tablet/PC products."

All this takes place against the backdrop of Microsoft's surprise decision to sell its own branded tablet "Surface" tablet computers. That move raised questions about the possible repercussions of Microsoft being in competition with many of its old hardware partners. But given Sullivan's message to the market, it's clear that no such angst will accompany Microsoft's plans for pushing Windows phones.

At least not for the present time.

As has been widely noted, Microsoft is playing catchup to Apple and Google in the phone market and as such, Microsoft needs all the assistance it can muster from its mobile hardware partners.