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Microsoft weighing its own Windows Phones, analyst says

According to a prominent Wall Street analyst, Microsoft is currently working with hardware makers to develop its own handset to coincide with Windows Phone 8.

Josh Lowensohn Former Senior Writer
Josh Lowensohn joined CNET in 2006 and now covers Apple. Before that, Josh wrote about everything from new Web start-ups, to remote-controlled robots that watch your house. Prior to joining CNET, Josh covered breaking video game news, as well as reviewing game software. His current console favorite is the Xbox 360.
Josh Lowensohn
2 min read
Windows Phone's new home screen, as demoed by the company this week.
Windows Phone's new home screen, as demoed by the company this week. Josh Miller/CNET

The Surface tablet may not be the only piece of hardware Microsoft is cooking up.

According to Nomura analyst Rick Sherlund, the software giant plans to follow through with the same strategy of developing both the hardware and software on its upcoming crop of mobile phones.

"Our industry sources tell us that Microsoft may be working with a contract manufacturer to develop their own handset for Windows Phone 8," Sherlund wrote in a note to investors, which was relayed by Reuters this afternoon.

"It is unclear to us whether this would be a reference platform or whether this may be a go-to market Microsoft-branded handset," Sherlund added.

Asked to comment on the report, a Microsoft spokesperson told CNET only that "we are big believers in our hardware partners and together we're focused on bringing Windows Phone 8 to market with them this year."

A new start
The move would be a departure from Microsoft's current mobile phone efforts, which so far has left up the design and creation of Windows Phone handsets to its hardware partners, who have worked off a reference design and a list of hardware requirements. By making its own hardware, Microsoft could upset that balance by working on software features for specific hardware elements only it would know about.

That very interplay between software and hardware is what Microsoft says enabled it to make its new tablet, which the company unveiled at a press conference earlier this week. Microsoft Chief Executive Officer Steve Ballmer noted specifically that there are serious benefits when designing both the hardware and the software together.

"We believe that any intersection between human and machine can be made better when all aspects of the experience -- hardware and software -- are considered in working together," Ballmer said, right before unveiling the company's upcoming pair of tablets in Hollywood, Calif., on Monday.

Nomura's note also comes just a day after Microsoft debuted Windows Phone 8, the next major version of its mobile phone operating system, to developers at a private event in San Francisco. Microsoft said that software will arrive later this year, launching on new handsets made by HTC, Huawei, Nokia, and Samsung.

Updated at 2:41 p.m. PT with comment from Microsoft.