Microsoft Branded Phone Could Launch in 2013

Are they or aren't they? That's the question on everybody's lips as rumors of a Microsoft-produced Windows Phone 8 handset started swirling around the web again this week.

Trusted sources tell WPCentral, the China Times, and Boy Genius Report that Microsoft plans to release a phone of its own sometime soon, though likely not as part of the first wave of Windows Phone 8 handsets. Instead, the China Times report claims the phone -- which will possibly be Surface-branded to match Microsoft's upcoming tablet -- will hit the streets in the first half of next year. According to WPCentral, the phone is even in the preliminary testing stages.

Microsoft's answers to point-blank questions about a self-made Windows Phone have been unusually squirrely of late, with ZDNet's Mary Jo Foley pointing out the company's stock "We are big believers in our hardware partners and together we’re focused on bringing Windows Phone 8 to market with them" line as well a recent Steve Ballmer deflection that ended with a not-so-convincing “Look, we’ll see what happens."

Before Microsoft's Windows Phone partners grab their pitchforks and descend on Redmond in force, however, it's worth remembering that Greg Sullivan, the senior marketing manager for Windows Phone, flat-out said in "No, we do not," in June when asked if Microsoft had any plans for a self-made phone.

Of course, that was more than three months ago, and three months is like three years in the technology world. We'll just have to wait and see if the Microsoft-made Windows Phone rumors turn out to be true. If they do end up to be accurate, will OEMs be willing to tolerate Microsoft's repeated Apple-like forays into the hardware side of things? That also remains to be seen.

Image credit: Microsoft