Microsoft’s glitzy surprise unveiling of the Surface tablet took place just two days before the Windows Phone 8 announcement. That curious timing left everyone’s tongues waggling; is a Microsoft-branded Windows Phone on its way, too? Yesterday, we learned the answer: nope.
InformationWeek flat-out asked Greg Sullivan, the senior marketing manager for Windows Phone, whether or not Microsoft had any plans to release a self-branded smartphone. His response was similarly straightforward. “No, we do not.”
Usually, Microsoft declines to comment on rumors, so Sullivan’s outright denial was unexpected.
Microsoft’s Windows Phone partners — which include Samsung, Nokia, HTC and Huawei — must have exhaled a deep sigh of relief at the news. Numerous whispers and reports say that hardware OEMs are highly displeased with the way the Surface tablet was developed in secret and announced unexpectedly. Introducing a Microsoft-branded Windows Phone at the same time would have only rubbed salt in the wounds and likely driven away smartphone manufacturers that Microsoft hopes to woo over from Android.
It’s especially good news for Nokia, which has thrown what’s left of its lot in with the Windows Phone operating system. After investing significant time, money and marketing into the Lumia line, the news that Windows Phone 7-based smartphones won’t be able to upgrade to Windows Phone 8 is crushing. Having to compete against Microsoft directly very well could have been a death blow for the struggling handset maker.