When Microsoft (MSFT) announced earlier this year that it will launch an own-brand tablet to compete directly with its various vendor partners working on Windows 8-based on tablet PCs of their own, there was some backlash. Privately — and sometimes even publicly — long-time Microsoft partners took it as an attack on their businesses and questioned why Microsoft would be so brazen. But with nowhere else to turn thanks to Windows’ overwhelming PC dominance, these vendors had no choice but to continue developing Windows 8 devices and compete directly with their software supplier. Though events may play out a bit differently in the smartphone market where Microsoft has yet to stage the comeback it promised two years ago, BGR has learned that the Redmond, Washington-based company plans to release its own Windows Phone 8 smartphone in the coming months.
Utilizing a strategy much like the one it is using with Windows 8, Microsoft is now looking to have its cake and eat it too in the smartphone market. With a number of high-profile partners like Nokia (NOK) and Samsung (005930) secured for the launch of Windows Phone 8 later this fall, a trusted source informed BGR several weeks ago that Microsoft is quietly working on an own-brand smartphone that will compete directly with high-end devices like Apple’s (AAPL) iPhone 5 and Samsung’s Galaxy S III, and also with Windows Phones built by its own vendor partners, of course.
Our source declined to provide any details beyond the fact that the handset is in the late stages of development and will launch in the coming months. As we continued to dig for more details, China Times on Monday published a report stating that Microsoft’s smartphone will launch under the “Surface” brand — which is quite fitting, of course — and it will become available in the first half of 2013.
BGR has been unable to confirm the exact timing of the launch, though a second well-placed source did suggest that Microsoft will likely not release an own-brand smartphone during the first round of Windows Phone 8 device launches coming ahead of the holidays this year.
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